Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tragic Cassowary Death Raises Mission Beach Road Toll to an Unacceptable 3 Adult Females in 6 Months

Yet again I find myself sitting in my office receiving news from my friend Liz Gallie at Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation (C4) that the Mission Beach community has lost yet another precious female endangered Southern cassowary.
Here is her email:

Subject: Another adult cassowary death on Mission Beach roads

A call was received this evening to inform C4 of an adult female cassowary road death at a well known crossing point just west of the hardware near the pumping station on the El Arish/Mission Beach Road.

The death occurred yesterday afternoon.

Apparently from the markings and amount of blood on the road the bird was hit by one car and ricocheted into the path of another car. We believe that the incident was not reported by the drivers of the vehicle/s involved and the body of the bird was retrieved late this afternoon by the Police and the Tully Vet.

C4 will be sending out a media release about this death as soon as more information is available.

This death will take the cassowary road toll to three adults in six months, within a kilometre section of road that is a known frequent crossing area.

With a slow recruitment rate of a species that can live up to 50 years, the death of three adult female cassowaries within a localised area is a massive blow for the important Mission Beach population of the endangered cassowary.

The site of the accident may be further west than the welcomed Main Roads proposed action to reduce the speed limit to 60kph.

The records of the placement of QPWS recent crossing signs would be invaluable information to inform authorities where effective traffic management can be applied.

When will the threats to the icon of the Cassowary Coast Region be taken seriously enough, by all the authorities that have the power to act, to avoid this carnage?

For further information please contact
Liz Gallie
C4 Media Coordinator
Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation
0414 402315
(07) 4068 7315

How do I feel?

Angry to start with but I am not even going to discuss my thoughts in this regard until I have cooled off a little.

Mostly I just feel sad that we are watching this amazing creature getting smashed into oblivion on our roads whilst agencies that could make a real difference slowly awaken (and hopefully respond) to the significance of these losses.

To be honest I am getting sick of telling this same story over and over but the message needs to get out there.

At this rate I will soon be considering constructing a form letter with fields for date and location that I can use to report each cassowary road death as they arrive in my inbox.

Government agencies need to act rapidly and decisively to halt this repetitive loss of such a precious endangered keystone species.

With an estimated Australian population of approximately 1500 individual birds every cassowary lost is a blow to this endangered species.
I will update this report when the press release comes in and more is known.



  1. I think I've got an idea how you feel --- and I feel the same way. For goodness sake, people, slow down and watch what you're doing.

    Up here, we are still toying with the idea of collecting road kill from sensitive areas and taking it to the council offices.

  2. Thanks snail for your comments. Indeed it is frustrating to watch the slaughter of our amazing and unique native fauna in known high risk areas. This is made worse when authorities seem to lack the will to reduce speed limits in these death zones and install structures to physically make traffic slow down.
    Perhaps this latest cassowary death will bring about change but unfortunately I said that last time as well.
    Even for those authorities who care little for wildlife there is a need to recognise keystone species as priority community assets with high ecological and tourism value. A failure to protect regional/community assets of such value amounts to outright negligence.

  3. I am so saddened to hear about this. It is so distressing... poor precious birds. When I drive along any road where wild life looks to exist, I drive at such a slow speed ie the road to Flying Fish Point. My eyes dart to and fro from one side of the road to the other... and I don't care who is behind me. I was so mortified after that last fatality I was involved in of the wallaby mother.

    I can't believe people are so uncaring and irresponsible on the Mission Beach roads, where the Cassorwary is frequently seen. It really makes me mad, sad and downright annoyed. Humanities tragic loss when they are all gone...

    ps. it was really great to meet you in person the other day... what a strange but pleasant co-incidence! lol

  4. Hi Amanda
    Mission beach has some real problems and these last 3 birds were killed along a 1 kilometre strip of road.Logic dictates that perhaps it would be wise to slow down traffic in this area but change happens slowly and cassowaries die quickly.I seem to recall that the Tasmanian tiger was declared a protected species about 3 months after the last captive animal died. Our species is both brilliant and slow to learn at the same time!
    It was great to meet you too Amanda...small world hey!

  5. Thanks for your comments, Snail and Amanda. The following understanding from Peter Singer (philosopher)may be a good reason or encouragment to be more careful. How do we get that message out there?

    Studies now show that the so-called ‘human’ qualities of compassion and altruism are present in dolphins, chimps and gorillas. What does that tell us?

    It tells us what Darwin already noticed—that it is not only in our anatomy, but also in our emotional and mental lives that we are on a continuum with the other animals. It also tells us that our ethics need to change. Now only human beings can have basic rights, or the moral status of a person. All animals are just ‘things’ - at law, items of property. That needs to change. We should not disregard or discount the interests of another sentient being just because it is not a member of our species.
    Mar 6-7 2010 Weekend Australian Magazine

  6. Hiya Russell! Guess what??! I have a little bit of good news to share (well it was for me lol)...

    Those 2 dogs that I wrote you an email about, have been regularly seen on the loose, day and night. They are the ones who chased the wallably into my oncoming vehicle :(

    Anyway, I wrote to the council with the address and also asked for a return response. I wrote it at 10.30pm and the very next morning they rang me. I gave them the info regarding where they are most often seen. The very next day, the same fellow called me back, and said that they located the owners! Apparently the owners will keep them secured, and they are moving to Belvedere in 2 weeks. So, our wildlife will be a little more safer now. Even if one is saved from a similiar fate that my little mumma and her joey suffered, will be a win in my books ;)

    Just wanted to let you know :D

    ps. In this instance, I was very impressed with the Council's swift action. Apparently no one else had complained about these dogs, yet many people commented they also have seen them running loose. People need to make the calls/emails for the law to be effective, in this case. All it takes is a little effort. YOU have shown me that! Thankyou :)

  7. That is fantastic news and good on you for following it up.
    I remember how distressed you were when the incident happened and I am thrilled that you have taken the situation in hand and created a positive outcome.
    Top marks to the council guy who acted in such a diligent and responsible manner as well.
    I am stoked Amanda...great stuff.
    Thank you for doing something to make our region a better place!


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