Monday, December 21, 2009

The Inconvenient Cassowary ...C4 Press Release

A quick introduction to this story as I have already said plenty today!

I would like to thank C4 for getting this information out so rapidly to the community and let them know their work to protect this keystone species is greatly appreciated.

So without further ado I shall pass you over to Liz Gallie and C4.

Cheers Russ

Media Release
For immediate Release

20 Dec 09

Approximately 7am on Sunday morning another cassowary was killed on the roads at Mission Beach. This is barely a month after the last road fatality took the life of an estimated twenty year old female. The death occurred at the approach to Mission Beach as the road straightens out from the sharp bends of Fenby’s Gap. It is a known crossing area where Queensland Parks and Wildlife staff often post “Recent Crossing’ signs.
There have been other cassowary fatalities in this area.

It is on a Main Roads section of road which displays an advisory speed limit of 60km/h within an 80 km/h zone.
It appears that this is another case of a cassowary being hit by a vehicle and the driver not stopping.

A couple travelling out of Mission Beach saw a cassowary standing next to something on the other side of the road bending down and touching it with its beak. They stopped and realised then it was another cassowary.

They described the scene “it was standing over the other (dead) bird and it looked like it was trying to pull it up”

Another witness who stopped called the police to report the ‘traffic hazard’ because the other bird wouldn’t go away. “It kept pecking it and nudging it. It would walk into the bush and come back out again”

When a wildlife life carer arrived the bird was sitting a few metres away under the cover of the rainforest.

The dead bird was removed by a Queensland Parks and Wildlife ranger.

More signs went up and life went back to normal… for the motorists, that is.

Why there were two birds on the scene raises some questions. Both of the birds were identified as similar in appearance being reasonably young adults i.e. had full colour, black plumage with a well formed, relatively small casque.
Photo by Nancy Lowe 11 Dec 09

Photo by Robert Tidey 12 Dec 09

Being a territorial species it is not common to see two adults being tolerant of each other unless it is the breeding season. December is getting very late in the season. Most of the birds being observed now are solitary or moving about the landscape with their chicks which range from a few weeks to a few months old.

So much is still unknown about the prehistoric bird, a key stone species of the rainforest, and one we have the privilege to share our lives with. Yet there is complacency about their plight and even dislike of their presence from some local residents.

It has been said “I wish I had never heard of cassowaries, they are holding up progress” and even at the scene of the death a month ago “Get it off the road, they are just a bloody nuisance’‘

No one driving past the site since Sunday would know that another (likely breeding) adult cassowary had been killed at this location and removed from the important population at Mission Beach. It was simply another wildlife roadkill.

Despite overwhelming evidence that vehicle strike is a major cause of cassowary deaths, traffic-producing development continues to be approved without traffic-calming measures to protect the endangered species at Mission Beach.

The Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation (C4) has being voicing their concerns to all levels of government for 20 years and yet urbanisation continues and with it increased traffic. At Mission Beach all traffic travels through cassowary habitat.

A recent report commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency found that there are 1100 vacant blocks of land and over 900 new units currently approved or being assessed. The actual number is more.

A local real estate agent admits there is an oversupply of real estate at Mission Beach with many blocks going unsold at the regular land auctions now being held to try and move sales.

The local business group promotes Mission Beach as an adventure playground and purposefully plays down the importance of the cassowary to the Mission Beach tourism economy.

The cassowary once revered as an integral part of Mission Beach identity is now being seen as an inconvenience and a hindrance to progress.

Cassowary Coast Council must start taking responsibility and show political will by acknowledging the importance of the cassowary population to the health of our rainforest, our community and our economy. Immediate steps need to be taken to manage and control the ongoing and increasing threats associated with development the Council is approving.

Local, state and federal legislation is allowing for serious environmental harm to occur at Mission Beach. C4 urgently calls for a temporary freeze on more development approval especially those that disregard the FNQ 2031 plan.

We ask the federal government to pay particular attention to the impact traffic will have on the survival of the cassowary when assessing any current and future developments in important cassowary population areas.

40% of cassowary habitat at Mission Beach is not protected. C4 has already raised $80,000 to buyback and protect forever cassowary habitat. We recently entered into a fundraising partnership with renowned Rainforest Rescue. Bob Irwin is our champion and encourages people to please donate to help secure essential cassowary habitat in the lowland tropical rainforests of Mission Beach, We hope State and Federal governments will match donations from the public, which seems fair given cassowaries are listed as endangered under their legislation, although that could be an inconvenient truth.

For more information contact;

Liz Gallie

0414 402315

(07)40687 315


C4 (07) 4068 7197

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