Sunday, May 23, 2010

Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service Map of Reported Cassowary Vehicle Strike Deaths

In April 2007 the Queensland government produced a map of known cassowary vehicle strike deaths at Mission Beach.

Sometimes a picture says a thousand words and basically a map is just a picture isn’t it!
Click on image for larger view.

Keep in mind that these are exclusively cassowary vehicle strike deaths and only record the percentage of vehicle strike deaths that are reported.

I would not like to guess what the true figure is when you add birds that are either not reported or are struck and escape into the bush only to die later from their injuries.

When considering the importance of cassowaries in the big scheme of things I generally focus on 3 things.

Firstly the southern cassowaries low population which is estimated at 1200 to 1500 in the whole of Australia. This sets my alarm bells ringing as scarcity or rather relative scarcity is an acknowledged precursor to extinction (I qualified the last with “relative” for those who are familiar with the extinction of the American passenger pigeon).

Secondly our southern populations are listed as ENDANGERED. According to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999:
(4) A native species is eligible to be included in the endangered category at a particular time if, at that time:

(a) it is not critically endangered; and

(b) it is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future, as determined in accordance with the prescribed criteria.

In other words without action by our species the Australian government has deemed that these cassowaries face a very high risk of becoming extinct in the wild in the near future.

Finally cassowaries are a keystone species, in other words other species need cassowaries to survive as cassowaries are forest gardeners and keep our forests healthy by maintaining plant biodiversity via their seed distribution activity. Here's more information regarding cassowary gardening activity!
Our species is capable of saving the southern cassowary from extinction.

This will require a firm commitment from all levels of government and if we delay and delay we are only selfishly passing the problem onto future generations when we can make a real difference now.

Cheers Russ

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