Thursday, January 14, 2010

The ABC 730 Report Examines Fragmentation and Fencing of Cassowary Habitat at Mission Beach

Ella Bay Pty Ltd wish to fence the 3 kilometre long Ella Bay Road so when I was told there was a cassowary trapped behind a fence at Mission Beach on ABC television you can bet I was interested!
I missed “Endangered Cassowaries Under Threat” on the ABC’s 7.30 report but fortunately the internet came to the rescue and I was impressed by the ABC’s story.

Before I continue I would like to state that I have a great respect for the Australian Broadcasting Commission as they present stories without prejudice and do not bow to direct or indirect pressure from advertisers like many commercial media sources appear to in my opinion.
The ABC was the first media organisation to find and follow up on my Turtle Surveys around Bramston Beach and Ella Bay.

The interview I was given by ABC journalist Marian Nguyen meant a lot to me as it raised awareness of the conservation value of these two areas significantly. By the way if you want to hear that interview and check out the neat images click here.

Ok I’m starting to wander here so let’s get back to the story!

Mission beach is facing some massive Cassowary Habitat problems and places like Ella Bay have the potential to travel in precisely the same direction.

I’m pleased to see that conservation group C4 is working hard to identify and correct the many threats to Mission Beach cassowaries.

Mr Bob Irwin (father of the late Steve Irwin) has proudly stood up as an ambassador for the endangered southern cassowary and you will see him on the video.

Words cannot express my gratitude to Mr Bob Irwin who is proudly fighting for a species that needs all the help it can get when many men his age are looking at winding down and taking it easy. More power to you Bob.

If you would like to know a little more about Bob’s work with cassowaries click here.

I would also like to express my gratitude to the journalists and crew from the ABC who did a damn fine job of presenting a concise and interesting story…Well done!

There is some interesting dialogue at the beginning of the story which begins with Tony O’Malley (Mission Beach local planning officer with Terrain Natural Resource Management)on his mobile phone calling for rangers to assist a cassowary which has been trapped and confused by a fence.

TONY O'MALLEY: Hi Audrey, it's Tony, I'm down at Oasis and there's a cassowary trapped on the outside of the fence.

PETER MCCUTCHEON, REPORTER: An ancient giant of North Queensland's tropical rainforest has stumbled across modern suburbia.

It's an adult and it's walking up and down the fence and I think it's probably been here since at least 4:30 it's now after 5pm...

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Mission Beach environmentalist Tony O'Malley is asking wildlife rangers to come to the rescue. Why is it walking up and down the fence?

TONY O'MALLEY: Fences don't exist in the natural world. To them that's like vines that they can walk through and, you know, they're not massively intelligent.

Exactly Tony and when I see developer like Ella Bay Pty Ltd presenting fences as the solution to cassowary management I think exactly the same thing.

Even worse when I see tame zoo cassowaries trained to use a gate by property developers who then advertise it in the media as a solution to wild cassowary management! Then my research uncovers the fact that this gate isn’t even a decent deer gate, the purpose for which it was designed!! Look here if you would like to know more!

Ok I have talked plenty!

To see the 7.30 report story “Endangered Cassowaries Under Threat” click here

You can find more information including a transcript here.

Mr Bob Irwin summed the issue up quite concisely when he said…

“If we don’t do anything then the Cassowaries are gone”

Cheers Russ

Also….If you would like to check out some of the 20 other cassowary stories on the blog click here.


  1. We had a lovely drive to Mission Beach yesterday, with my nephew who is visiting with us from Townsville. The day before he had asked us what a cassowary looks like. We explained it to him, and found some images on the net.

    What a wonderful surprise when we saw one walking through the grass just as we came into Mission Beach!! Oh how I love these birds! And, this one was beautiful... big, strong male. I prayed he would keep away from the roads. Just a little before we saw him, there were droppings on the other side of the road. I suspect he had crossed over at some point.

    I was pleased to see signs here and there telling of recent crossings etc. If only people would just S L O W down, there birds would have a fighting chance.

  2. Hey I'm thrilled your nephew got to see a cassowary and they certainly are majestic animals. When I watch them walk every step seems deliberate and planned.
    Your message about slowing down is right on the money Amanda. And even though this doesn't guarantee their safety it helps a lot.
    By the way the Rufous pademelon I rescued from its dying mother's pouch on Ella Bay Road is still alive and being nursed by an Innisfail wildlife carer. Fingers crossed! I will tell this story soon on the blog.

  3. Russell, I got traumatising 'news' last night... my 19 yo son was driving along Sundown Road (the country road), last night, at 40 kmh, and a wallaby jumped out in front of his car. It died, and a joey apparently hoped out of her pouch. The old guy who lived on the road, and witnessed this, saw the baby joey and said it's hip was broken and that he would put it out of it's misery. I was quite annoyed and told my son that they should have called a wildlife carer or vet, to have them assess it.

    I just thought I would share this story with you. My son really loves animals and was really sorry/troubled about the whole thing. I think he was telling me the truth about his speed but you know young ones. I know these things are bound to happen, but boy, it grieves me.

  4. It was great that your son took the time and checked the wallaby after the accident as people often don't bother and I commend his actions. Anyone can hit an animal in a car no matter how fast they are going. That said slower is always better as it gives drivers and animals more reaction time.
    Far North Queensland Wildlife Rescue have a great web site and even a page on animal first aid at
    Their wildlife help line number is 40 534467.
    Today I talked to Marcelle, a local Innisfail wildlife carer, who told me they are very busy at the moment with a lot of vehicle struck animals. Unfortunately I'm seeing lots of roadkill lately.
    Without seeing the extent of the joey's injuries I can't really say if the old bloke was doing the right thing. I like to give injured animals a chance but would never want to lengthen an animals suffering if the situation is clearly hopeless.
    On a positive note the Pademelon joey I rescued from the Ella Bay Road is still alive today and in the hands of a very experienced wildlife carer.


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