The Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii) is a large, flightless bird that is endemic to the tropical rainforests of Far North Queensland. It is one of the largest birds in the world – only the emu and ostrich are taller and only the ostrich is heavier.
Its name is derived from the Papuan words kasu (“horned”) and weri (“head”) in reference to the distinctive ‘casque’ on the Cassowary’s head.
Growth in human population and land clearing for urban and agricultural development has severely affected the Southern Cassowary’s home and way of life. Cassowaries still occur in the two regions they were recorded in when Europeans first arrived, the rainforests of Cape York and the Wet Tropics Region. Today, however, they are no longer found in some areas within those regions, e.g. where clearing has occurred in the Wet Tropics and in the northern parts of Cape York.
The Southern Cassowary is listed as Endangered by the Australian Government under the Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act.