from Adam Smith, Marketing Manager, Dainree Discovery Centre
It’s been busy time at the Daintree Discovery Centre recently, with several wild Cassowaries making themselves known to excited visitors and staff. The individual male Cassowaries were seen cruising throughout the Centre, drinking and bathing themselves in Maclean’s creek.
Cassowary sightings have been on the increase at the Centre; it is not uncommon for Cassowaries and their chicks to begin to roam into new territory as the chicks develop and are able to travel further distances.
Daintree Discovery Centre Guide Chris Bennett, attributes the increase in sightings of the individual male Cassowaries to a decrease in the Cassowary’s natural food sources. “The excessive rain attributed to the extended wet season this year, has interfered with the fruiting cycles of many species.” explains Chris, “The rain has damaged the flower structure of many important plants and this has led to minimal fruiting. As a result, the cassowaries have had to extend their daily foraging for fruit over a larger area. It is not uncommon for them to cover up to 30 or 40 km in day.”
Though it’s not all bad news for the Cassowary, explains Professor Peter Pavlov “the Cassowary’s favourite fruit, the aptly named Cassowary Plum, is ripening into season now. Over the coming months, the Cassowary Plum will once again become their staple food source. We are delighted to have abundant naturally occurring sources of Cassowary Plums at the Daintree Discovery Centre, which will most certainly contribute to sustaining the increased number of sightings during that period.”
It caps off a six week stint of increased sightings at the Centre, much to the delight of excited tourists, who have been able to marvel at theses majestic animals, in and around the centre. “This is the best thing ever!” said one American tourist, thoroughly enjoying the sightings, along with the rest of her bus group.
Professor Peter Pavlov, has dedicated his career to rainforest research and education. “Although the regular sightings are always welcomed, this does not indicate that that there are higher numbers of Cassowaries in the region” says Professor Pavlov, “the adult Cassowaries that live in the Daintree are using all of the remaining available rainforest for their food source and this is why it is so important to increase the rainforest area, by replanting degraded land to increase the cassowary numbers.
“We are proud to conduct a Daintree Rainforest revegetation program that sees the Daintree Discovery Centre plant over 2500 rainforest trees each year.”
Professor Pavlov says we can all do our part to protect and increase the Cassowary Population. “They are still listed as an endangered species and like any wild animal should not be approached. Humans and Dogs are the biggest threat to the decline in Cassowary numbers. We can all help the Cassowary by being cautious drivers in cassowary populated areas and making sure dogs and other animals are well secured.”
The Daintree Discovery Centre allows visitors the unique experience of viewing the wild animals from the elevated aerial walkways and boardwalks, allowing the majestic creatures to go about their business undisturbed.
Rainforest Rescue is currently negotiating with Daintree Discovery Centre to become a campaign partner for Save the Cassowary.