Monday, November 16, 2009

Mission beach loses another endangered Cassowary to a hit run driver

Today I received a media release from Liz Gallie and the management team at Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation (C4). It was all bad news as our region has lost another endangered southern cassowary today to a hit run driver.
Photo by Liz Gallie

People sometimes ask why I am so strongly opposed to the proposed Ella Bay urban development/resort complex and all I can say is look at the photos, read the story, and there is your answer.

Mission beach is the perfect example of what happens when development encroaches onto cassowary habitat. Tragic incidents like this should be driving the lesson home to our decision makers.

Photo by Liz Gallie

I am sad and angry at the same time to be honest. My sympathies go to all the people who had to witness this tragedy and my sincere thanks to the 2 Americans and the Canadian tourist who did what little they could to help this bird.

Photo by Liz Gallie

I have no more words, I will leave you with Liz Gallie’s introduction and the media release.


Development continues to be approved at Mission Beach without consideration for the increased traffic it brings. There are no plans for a traffic management strategy or reduction in speed limits in the high biodiversity area.

Mission Beach supports the highest density of cassowaries in Australia and yet there are believed to be only approximately 40 adults. Most cassowaries must cross roads daily to access their essential habitat. It is a gross negligence of the relevant authorities that we must bear witness to the continued and increasing threats to the adopted icon of our shire. The endangered cassowary is an important species to our environment community and economy.

Please find media release attached.

Kind Regards
Liz Gallie
On behalf of the Management Team
C4 (Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation Inc)
0414 402315
(07) 40687315
C4 (07) 4068 7197

Media Release
For immediate Release

16 Nov 09

Hit and run

Approximately 6-45am this morning a phone call was received informing us there had been a cassowary hit on the road near Fenby’s Gap. When we arrived, three people were standing around a dead adult bird. The tourists, two from America and one from Canada were visiting the Lacey’s Creek/Licuala Walk on the El Arish Mission Beach Road in the hope of seeing a cassowary in the wild.

They did, but not in the way they had planned.

While on the walking track they heard a loud thump and rushed back to the road only to see an adult cassowary had been hit by a vehicle and lay dying on the road. The driver did not stop. It occurred on a stretch of road with good visibility. A passing motorist reported the accident

The visitors moved the critically injured bird to the edge of the road but were unable to do anything but watch it die.

Traffic strike is the number one killer of cassowaries after habitat loss and this will bring the recorded deaths on roads at Mission Beach to 57 in 15 years. The toll is likely to be higher as not all strikes are reported.

At Mission Beach all roads intersect cassowary habitat. A cassowary can live up to fifty years of age and may make several road crossings each day. A recent JCU traffic study of the Mission Beach area has identified that if a cassowary needs to cross roads to access its essential food it will eventually die by vehicle strike.

It is hard to understand how anyone could hit and seriously injure an endangered species, especially one that is so important for our environment, community and economy, and not stop to see what they could do or at the very least report it?

It is important that these accidents are reported. It will allow us to better understand where and why they happen so strategies can be introduced to avoid deaths such as this in the future.

We know that speed is responsible for many of the cassowary road deaths and, as proven in the Daintree, reducing the speed limit reduces the risk. Increased traffic also increases the risk.

For injured wildlife please call Queensland Parks and Wildlife Ph 40641164, MOB. 0427 126 602


For more information contact;
Liz Gallie
0414 402315
(07)40687 315
C4 (07) 4068 7197


  1. Shocking news.. The only way to save cassowaries in Mission Beach is to permantly close one of the two acess roads into the community from the Bruce Highway. The same could be said about Lake Eacham and the closing of one of the roads into the park. There only needs to be one road into Mission Beach and one road into Lake Eacham. It's time for the pollies to make the hard decisions or see the localised extinction of the cassowaries under their watch.!!

  2. Valid point Steven, thank you! I beleive we have to plan around these birds instead of pushing and shoving them around with our developments and roads.They need right of way. Fences are not the answer thats for sure.
    Re localised extinctions they are nothing new in this region. In 1996 the very last cassowary on Mount Whitfield, a female known as "Blue arrow", was killed by two dogs. That was it, finished, all over, the end.
    Let's hope Ella Bay's cassowaries don't face a similar extinction.

  3. Aren't cassowaries a major tourist attraction? It's poor business strategy to promote these rare birds as a tourist attraction, (as seen in glossy brochures, etc), yet, at the same time, allow them to become extinct by turning a blind eye to the death toll. When evidence of realistic and effective wildlife preservation is lacking in the design of 'development' projects, they become mere slap-dash and shoddy grabs for money, and the 'tourist attraction' line is nothing more than propaganda to mask the destructiveness of the 'invasion and rape approach' to development. The self-interest of colonial mentality becomes glaringly obvious when already endangered species are sacrificed for money. All environments are 'multi-species environments' and consideration of this fact at the design stage of development is long overdue.

  4. Thanks for your comments paw print. You have raised an interesting issue re the value of a living cassowary.
    I beleive every cassowary performs over a million dollars worth of rainforest gardening work (seed distribution) over a 20 year period. $50 000 a year sounds like a cheap wage for a gardener who works long hours 7 days a week. That's without even taking into account the tourism dollars the cassowaries attract to the region. Then there is royalties that should be paid to the birds for using them in advertising etc etc.
    At the very minimum Mission Beach lost a million dollar asset that sad day.

  5. The demise of the Southern Cassowary on the Australian mainland is an absolute tragedy. I remember when that last cassowary on Mt Whitfield was killed, it was a such a sad moment. I wonder how long it will be before this issue is taken seriously and efforts from the government extend beyond lip service.

  6. Thank you Sebastian. I too remember that day when blue arrow was killed by two pet dogs. She died with an apple still in her belly that someone had fed to her. Another local extinction for Cairns.
    Emotion aside we have to recognise the value of these birds both ecologically and financially.Cassowaries are our golden goose so to speak.I'm with you 100% Sebastian,we need firm protective measures if cassowaries are to have a future in our wet tropics.


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