Monday, June 14, 2010

Four Endangered Cassowaries Slaughtered over the Last Seven Months on Mission Beach Roads

That’s right, yet another endangered southern cassowary has been killed on North Queensland roads by a motor car.
So again I find myself sitting at my computer writing about another cassowary road death at Mission Beach, North Queensland.

In a recent blog story posted about the last cassowary road death at Mission Beach on 10 May 2010 I stated:
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.
Nothing has changed and I am well and truly tired of witnessing this senseless carnage.

The latest death occurred at a known cassowary crossing point and a male bird was killed.

This same male bird had previously raised many young only to have most of them killed by vehicles.

Now he is the victim, leaving his 2 chicks to fend for themselves without his care and guidance.

Here is the C4 press release:
Media Release

Road to Extinction

14 June 2010

It is beginning to be a case of ‘Ho hum, another one” as the endangered cassowary continues to be killed on the Mission Beach roads at an unsustainable rate.

The latest death on Saturday, Queens Birthday long weekend at midday was of a male caring for chicks as it attempted to cross the road at its regular crossing point near the South Mission Beach turnoff. The two chicks are now prematurely left to survive on their own.

It brings the cassowary road death toll to four adults in seven months and 60 in 15 years.

“Each year this adult cassowary has lost chicks to car strike at the same location and there have been many reports of near misses” “It isn’t only a matter of the unsustainable rate of deaths” said C4 spokesperson Liz Gallie, ”it hits at the very core of community pride and identity”

In 2008 the death of one of the chicks at the crossing prompted a rally of concerned community members.

“There is tragic irony in the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) ‘recent crossing’ sign being attached to the 80 km/h road sign”

“The willingness of the Queensland Main Roads Department to trial traffic management solutions at Mission Beach is most welcome”, said Ms Gallie, “but it is being questioned by the increasingly concerned community why the speed limit cannot be simply lowered throughout the township given the multiple deaths at known locations.

“It may be a case of not enough soon enough. This is an iconic endangered species we are talking about. If the cassowary is allowed to be lost at Mission Beach, the Cassowary Coast Region would not only lose its icon but a major part of its tourism economy and appeal”.

For over two decades there have been countless plans developed and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in the name of cassowary management and protection and yet the known threats to their survival are increasing.

“The Cassowary is an endangered species and icon of North Qld and the environment of the Tropics and, therefore, needs to be taken seriously by every Australian. This is a moral issue that really concerns all of us and should be important news in the national papers for everyone to see”.

The targets of the Traffic Management Strategy in the new CSIRO and Terrain ‘Mission Beach Habitat Network Action Plan’ released last week are that;
  • Cassowaries are not killed by vehicle strikes
  • Fewer motor vehicles per person are using the road
“It is an action plan” Ms Gallie said “Unless all the partners identified in the Plan commit to act now with an aligned and coordinated approach, it threatens to be just be another plan sitting on a shelf as the cassowary continues on the road to extinction”

For more information please contact

Liz Gallie

C4 Media Coordinator

0414 402315

(07) 4068 7315

Photo captions

“The irony of the recent crossing sign attached to an 80kmh road sign warning of the birds regular sighting”.

Map showing the extent of the road deaths over the last 15 years. Compiled from various records including C4.

Photo; Liz Gallie

Here is the map that travels with the C4 Press release
Oh and here is the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Mission Beach Death Map that some of this map is based on!
And the road signs before they were updated at the start of this story!
One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that Mission Beach has a real problem.

Cassowaries take at least 3 years to reach breeding age so the absolute minimum amount of cassowary years needed to replace these 4 lost birds is 12 cassowary years.

Yet it took us humans a mere 7 months to smash these 4 birds all over the highway… hardly a sustainable loss in my books!

As mentioned in the press release, CSIRO and Terrain have released a ‘Mission Beach Habitat Network Action Plan’ which can be found on the Terrain NRM website.

Ms Gallie hit the nail on the head when she said:
“It is an action plan” Ms Gallie said “Unless all the partners identified in the Plan commit to act now with an aligned and coordinated approach, it threatens to be just be another plan sitting on a shelf as the cassowary continues on the road to extinction”
I call on the Cassowary Coast Regional Council and indeed all levels of government to put this plan into action and commit to halting this bird’s journey down the slippery road to extinction.

Before I go here is a 2009 video of a male cassowary and his chick at Mission Beach getting frightened by traffic when approaching a road.

Who knows it may even be the same male bird that was killed.

The cassowary slaughter at Mission Beach is a testament to what happens when humans develop and fragment cassowary habitat.

Let’s hope the Commonwealth and State authorities that are assessing the massive Ella Bay urban development/resort complex are wise enough to learn from Mission Beach and put a halt to that unsustainable development to protect Ella Bay’s endangered southern cassowaries.

A mistake is only a mistake if you do it twice.

Cheers Russ


  1. Thanks for your comment Amanda and I'm with you as far as the sad face goes. Plans and guidelines are available to help organisations like the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, DERM and Main Roads make changes to help this endangered keystone species survive ...but all parties must bite the bullet and make those changes.
    The losses we are seeing in these last few months are simply unacceptable. Something as simple as dropping the speed limit in crossing areas could make a significant difference. It's obvious that what they are doing now simply isn't enough.


Related Posts with Thumbnails