Cassowary pair is once in a lifetime sight, say Cape York Traditional Owners

By Kearyn Cox

September 19, 2022

Seeing a pair of cassowaries is a rare thing on Cape York Peninsula, site of a new national park made up of reclaimed indigenous land. Traditional owners say it is a sign of ancestors.

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Two southern cassowaries (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii) were sighted in Cape York Peninsula, Far North Queensland (FNQ) this week, only the third confirmed sighting of the species in the area in four years.

After two weeks of searching, Gomaroi man and DeadlyScience Founder and CEO Corey Tutt recently made the one-off sighting while walking the Marrdja Boardwalk in the Daintree Rainforest.

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Widely recognized as one of the most dangerous birds in the world, the southern cassowary is unique to FNQ. It is the third largest and second heaviest living bird in the world and is currently classified as Vulnerable by the Australian Government Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Under the Queensland Government Nature Conservation Act 1992 The Wet Tropics population south of Cape York is listed as Vulnerable, while the Cape York population is listed as Vulnerable.

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Ipima Ikaya Aboriginal Corporation Chairman and Gudang Yadhaigana Traditional Owner Reginald Williams described Corey’s encounter with two cassowaries as extraordinary.

“It’s once in a lifetime to see both of them together,” he said. “It is very rare for us to see even a cassowary. We usually encounter emus but not cassowaries.

“It’s very exciting.”

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