A cassowary chick that was rescued by wildlife officers has reached an important milestone in its rehabilitation and is one step closer to being released into the wild.
Senior Wildlife Officer, Dinouk Perera said a member of the public found the sick and injured bird abandoned in the Mission Beach area and reported it to the Department of Environment and Science (DES) in April 2021.
“The bird was taken into DES’s Garners Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation Centre (GBCRC) for a vet check and rehabilitation,” he said.
“Gradually, it has built up its strength and is now ready to be transferred to the Tablelands Rehabilitation Facility at Barrine.
“The Barrine facility, operated by Rainforest Reserves Australia, mimics the rainforest and the chick will continue to learn to forage for its own food and to become unhabituated from humans.
“Importantly, the chick will be placed into an enclosure with another young chick, so they will both have companionship as they continue to rehabilitate and grow.
“The other young bird was rescued by wildlife officers at Kuranda earlier this year when its parent has not been seen for several days and was feared to have died.
“Unfortunately, it is believed people around Kuranda and Mission Beach have been feeding cassowaries, which can place the birds in grave danger of vehicle strikes and dog attacks.”
Mr Perera said the partnership between DES, Rainforest Reserves Australia and the C4 (Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation) group was helping to fast-track the rehabilitation of cassowaries in care and their release back into the wild.
“The committed volunteers from the long-established C4 group spend many hours collecting native fruit from the rainforest to feed to cassowaries, and preparing other food during their time at the Garner’s Beach Rehabilitation Centre,” he said.
“C4, along with Rainforest Reserves Australia, are dedicated to rehabilitation, release and cassowary research, and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service thanks them for their ongoing efforts.”
As one cassowary chick is being released into the Barrine facility, wildlife officers and volunteers also collected an older bird from another enclosure at the facility and prepared it for released back into the wild.
“That bird is a sub-adult and it has been at the Barrine facility for almost 12 months, initially in recovery before gradually learning how to find its own food in the forest,” Mr Perera said.
“It was released into a remote part of Wooroonooran National Park, and everyone involved with cassowary care and rehabilitation is excited at this achievement.
“Rehabilitating cassowaries poses many challenges, but it can also be extremely rewarding when a bird is released into the wild to take up its important ecological role as a ‘gardener of the forest’.
“The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service would also like to thank the Girringun Indigenous Rangers, who will participate in the transfer and release activities, and local vet Dr Graham Lauridsen, who is passionate about caring and protecting cassowaries.”
People who live in cassowary country are urged not to feed the birds, and to drive slowly around known cassowary hotspots.
All cassowary sightings should be reported to DES on 1300 130 372