Geographic Range. Southern cassowaries are found in New Guinea, Cape York, Ceram and Aru Islands. (“Cassowaries”, ; “Ostriches and their Relatives. In the past, eight races (casuarius, tricarunculatus, bistriatus, lateralis, sclaterii, johnsonii, aruensis and bicarunculatus) or more were commonly recognized;. Learn more about the Southern cassowary – with amazing Southern cassowary videos, photos and facts on Arkive.
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Share this image — Hide sharing options. Cassowaries are large, flightless birds that are related to emus and found only in Australia and New Guinea 2. The southern cassuarius Casuarius casuarius has glossy black plumage and a bright blue neck, with red colouring at the nape 3.
Two wattles of bare, red coloured skin hang down from the throat. Cassowaries have stout, powerful legs and long feet with 3 toes; the inner toe on each foot has a sharp claw that can reach up to 80 millimetres in length 4. This helmet or casque slopes casuarjus and is used to push through vegetation as the cassowary runs through the rainforest with its head down. It also reflects age and dominance. The sexes are similar in appearance, although females tend to be larger and cassuarius. Chicks are striped black and cream, fading to brown after around five casuarus.
The adult colouring and casque begin to develop between two and four years of age 4. Cassowaries are usually solitary, and males are subordinate to females if they meet.
Females may lay several clutches of eggs during the breeding season, which runs casuatius June to October. These are laid directly onto the forest floor and the male then takes sole responsibility for their care.
The male incubates the eggs for around 50 days, turning the eggs and only leaving his charges in order to drink. He cares for his offspring for up to 16 months, protecting them under his tail if threatened 4.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Cassowaries fight by kicking out with their legs. They have a fearsome reputation, but their diet is composed almost entirely of fruit. These birds are important dispersers of a number of rainforest seeds, ranging far in search of fruiting trees 4.
The southern cassowary is found in New Guinea as well as Queensland in north-eastern Australia 3. The southern cassowary is a rainforest inhabitant, although it is also found in nearby savanna, mangroves and fruit plantations 3. The destruction of rainforest and wet tropical coastal lowland habitat is the most important cause of the decline in the southern cassowary population. As forest casuarihs cleared to make way for agriculture or development, populations become fragmented and isolated, reducing genetic variation.
The birds may also not have access to sufficient food or water sources in forest patches.
Traffic accidents are also important causes of mortality, particularly in Queensland, where some areas are becoming increasingly populated casuarous humans. Where cassowaries come into contact with humans, dogs pose a threat to their survival, preying particularly on young birds.
Species Profile and Threats Database
In New Guinea, cassowaries are important food sources for some communities and are heavily hunted as a result 5. In Australia, most of the remaining habitat of the southern cassowary is now located within protected areas 3. A recovery plan for the species has been drawn up by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, with the aim of securing and enhancing the status of the southern cassowary in Australia through integrated conservation initiatives 5.
In New Guinea, further data on population numbers is required and hunting restrictions may need to be imposed 3. This awesome bird belongs to an ancient lineage and is one of the most striking of the flightless birds; its conservation therefore has important cultural and ecological significance. This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: Embed this Arkive thumbnail link “portlet” by copying and pasting the code below.
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Share on Facebook Tweet Send email. Southern cassowary Casuarius casuarius. The southern cassowary is a casuarrius, flightless bird with a helmet of tough skin on its head, used to push through vegetation in the rainforest.
Despite its fearsome reputation, sharp claws and powerful kick, the southern cassowary feeds almost entirely on fruit. The female southern cassowary is dominant over the male, and it is the male who incubates the eggs czsuarius cares for the chicks.
Dwarf cassowary Casuarius bennetti. Northern cassowary Casuarius unappendiculatus. Southern cassowary biology Cassowaries are usually solitary, and males are subordinate to females if they meet. Southern cassowary range The southern cassowary is found in New Guinea as well as Queensland in north-eastern Australia 3.
Blacksaddled coral grouper Plectropomus laevis. Common redshank Tringa totanus. Sharp-tailed sandpiper Calidris acuminata. Southern cassowary habitat The southern cassowary is a rainforest inhabitant, although it is also found in nearby savanna, mangroves and fruit plantations 3. Rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus. Rock hyrax Procavia capensis. Southern cassowary threats The destruction of rainforest and wet tropical coastal lowland habitat is the most important cause of the decline in the southern cassowary population.
Southern cassowary conservation In Australia, most of the remaining habitat of the southern cassowary is now located within protected areas 3. To help conserve this species by working in the field with Earthwatch, click here. Find out more Find out more about the southern cassowary and its conservation: Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation: Authentication This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. Glossary Casque A helmet-like structure or protuberance.
Incubate To keep eggs warm so that development is possible. Nape The back of the neck. Wattles Bare fleshy skin that hangs from the bill, throat or eye of birds. Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation August, http: X Close Image credit. X Close Link to this photo Embed this Arkive thumbnail link “portlet” by copying and pasting the code below. This species is featured in: Please donate to Arkive Help us share the wonders of the natural world.
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