Save the Cassowary from Extinction in Australia

by Rainforest Rescue
Before weeds are removed
Before weeds are removed

Locals couldn’t remember the last time Wongaling Creek flowed, but in collaboration with Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, we’ve completed the Wongaling Wetland Cassowary Corridor restoration project and the creek is now flowing again!

The Djiru Native Title Land at Mission Beach was choked with water weeds, guinea grass, lantana and Singapore daisy, and surrounded by urbanisation and development. The land was prioritised for restoration after it was identified as key cassowary habitat by the Traditional Owners.

The project also employed and trained Djiru Traditional Owners, many of whom had been displaced by Mission Beach’s rapid development and soaring property prices.

“The Girringun nursery and restoration team and the Djiru restoration team thank you for your support to help heal our country,” said Nina Dawson, Restoration Project Coordinator.

 

What we've achieved together:

  • Removal of invasive Singapore daisy that had clogged the creek and prevented native species growth
  • 1,500 Cassowary rainforest trees planted
  • Seed collection of cassowary food trees to be grown in the Girringun nursery
  • Training of Djiru people – plant identification, seed collection and restoration and propagation techniques
  • Wongaling Creek flowing again
Site 1 after weed removal
Site 1 after weed removal
Dijiru and Girringun crew
Dijiru and Girringun crew
Cassowaries in the Daintree (C) Martin Stringer
Cassowaries in the Daintree (C) Martin Stringer

Since its launch on 17 March 2014, the new Save the Cassowary campaign has gone from strength to strength.

Media coverage of the launch spread the message to almost FOUR million Australians. Our 19 partner zoos are displaying interpretive signage at their Cassowary enclosures to raise awareness. Some partners have already raised thousands of dollars to help the cause. Rainforest Rescue's Director of Conservation and Partnerships Jennifer Croes, addressed the Zoo and Aquarium Association Annual Conference in Auckland New Zealand where news of the campaign attracted interest and support from conservationists around the globe including Europe and the USA.

Another important step has been the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Girrigun Aboriginal Corporation, which will see their members actively involved in rainforest regeneration on their native lands to improve Cassowary habitat. Local aboriginal people will also be involved in caring for sick, injured and orphaned Cassowaries at the Garner's Beach rehabilitation centre in response to accidents and adverse weather events.

Cassowary sightings in North Queensland are increasing, and while this gives us hope that the population is strong, it is often on the roadsides and a sign that their natural habitat is becoming more fragmented, so they need to come nearer and nearer to human populations... one of the biggest threats to their wellbeing.

On 14 and 15 June, the Rainforest Rescue team was joined by more than 50 volunteers - who came from near and farto plant 4,000 trees on three of Rainforest Rescue's properties. The land had been cleared of many tonnes of rubbish and debris (including concrete slabs and old car tires) and the holes had been dug in advance. The seedlings were raised in Rainforest Rescue's own nursery from seeds collected during the last year. Although the weather was unseasonally wet (June is usually the dry season in the Wet Tropics) and the events were muddy, the work was completed and the team had a great sense of accomplishment in creating more habitat for the Southern Cassowary and other native wildlife.

The new plants will be tended carefully for two to three years until the canopy closes over, which will help to control the weeds. Of course, all this requires resources, both human and financial and your support in helping to conserve this keystone species is greatly appreciated. Thank-you to all our Global Giving donors who - despite great distances in some cases - continue to support our work.

Daintree Tree Planting 2014 (c) Martin Stringer
Daintree Tree Planting 2014 (c) Martin Stringer
Seedlings in the nursery (c) Martin Stringer
Seedlings in the nursery (c) Martin Stringer
Volunteers at work (c) Martin Stringer
Volunteers at work (c) Martin Stringer
The Girringun mob (c) Martin Stringer
The Girringun mob (c) Martin Stringer

Links:

Jennifer Croes prepares for live TV cross
Jennifer Croes prepares for live TV cross

The Southern Cassowary is endemic to Australia’s Wet Tropics region in Far North Queensland and a keystone species, whose loss would impact other species and the ecosystem. The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is listed as the second most ‘irreplaceable natural World Heritage Area’ on earth. Many species such as the Southern Cassowary, the Mahogany Glider and Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo are found there.

Current estimates fear fewer than 1,000 birds are left in the wild. Rapid residential and commercial development has eliminated much of its habitat. Little known to most people, this living dinosaur evolved millions of years ago and is vital to the rainforest’s ecological functionality. It disperses the seeds of more than 180 rainforest plant species.

At WILDLIFE Sydney Zoo on 17 March 2014, Rainforest Rescue launched a new iteration of its Save the Cassowary campaign in collaboration with 19 Australian zoos, government departments and business partners to urgently highlight the future of the endangered ‘Rainforest Gardener’, the Southern Cassowary. The event included a live cross to local breakfast TV show ‘Wake Up’, from inside the cassowary enclosure.

Launching the campaign, Rainforest Rescue’s Conservation Director Jennifer Croes announced a new partnership with Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, describing it as “bridging the conservation gap by incorporating Traditional Owner knowledge and values to long-term conservation solutions.”

Chris Hibbard from the Zoo Aquarium Association (Australiasia) spoke of the need to put the dwindling numbers of Cassowaries in the spotlight as “by comparison, they are actually fewer in number than the Giant Panda, of which there is great awareness and support for its survival around the globe”.

Will Meikle from WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo spoke of the role zoos play in helping to bring Endangered species to the public’s attention, before joining Jennifer and Chris to unveil the newly created signage that will be displayed in 19 partner zoos nationwide from early April.

While the species focus of the campaign may seem like a departure from Rainforest Rescue’s traditional preservation and restoration activities, this magnificent keystone species is a ‘rainforest ambassador’. If we don’t protect its rainforest habitat, there will be no Cassowaries and vice versa, for without the unique role the Cassowary plays in dispersing more than 180 rainforest seeds, the very future of the rainforest will be compromised.

A new website has been created especially for the campaign. In addition to a wealth of information about the Southern Cassowary and the threats it currently faces, it also provides information about Rainforest Rescue’s conservation projects and how you can help, which will be regularly updated via news articles. See more at: www.savethecassowary.org.au  

Rainforest Rescue and our partners invite you to help save this ‘living dinosaur’ by getting to know the Cassowary, understand its vital importance in nature and support Rainforest Rescue’s cassowary conservation initiatives including habitat protection through land buy-back; restoration of vital habitat and corridors; Garners Beach Cassowary rehabilitation centre; and the undertaking of further scientific research.

Speakers at the campaign launch
Speakers at the campaign launch
New art cup from business partner BioPak
New art cup from business partner BioPak

Links:

Save the Cassowary
Save the Cassowary

Dear Friend & Supporter,

One of the most ancient of all creatures to inhabit the Wet Tropics of Queensland is the Endangered Southern Cassowary. As a 'keystone species' the Cassowary's role is pivotal in preserving the rainforest and its unique plants and animals. Yet, It's estimated that fewer than 1,000 birds remain.

The Southern Cassowary has been the Wet Tropics' 'rainforest gardener' for virtually its entire existence, and is the major seed disperser of around 150 plant species. Around 70 to 100 of these plants depend entirely on the Cassowary to disperse their seeds, maintaining the rainforest's rich biodiversity.

With so few birds left in the wild, we must act now to help save the Endangered Southern Cassowary. If it becomes extinct, we stand to lose not just one of Australia's most iconic animal species, but also the Wet Tropics - including the magnificient Daintree Rainforest - as we know it.

Please make a donation by Tuesday 31st December to help protect and restore critical Cassowary habitat and assist with conservation efforts.

The greatest threat to Cassowaries is us...people. Rapid urban development in parts of the Wet Tropics has either destroyed or fragmented much of their habitat. An adult Cassowary needs 250 hectares in which to forage for food and to breed. The disruption of their habitat forces them to travel further - exposing them to threats like dog attacks and road fatalities.

Thanks to Rainforest Rescue supporters we are taking postive action to help save the Southern Cassowary. This includes the purchase and protection of 22 properties to date classified as 'essential' Cassowary habitat, and the planting of 43,756 trees in the Daintree Rainforest and at Mission Beach to create Cassowary corridors and provide extra food and shelter.

Mission Beach, south of Cairns, is home to Australia's greatest density of Southern Cassowaries. Yet, due to a combination of rapid development and extreme weather events, like Cyclone Yasi, as few as 40 to 50 birds remain.

That's why we are negotiating with the Queensland State Government to co-manage the Garner's Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation Centre near Mission Beach. This is the only facility that rescues, rehabilitates and releases injured and orphaned Cassowaries back into the wild.

Protecting and restoring essential Cassowary habitat and supporting the life-saving work of the Garner's Beach Cassowary Rehabiliation Centre is only possible with the support of generous people like you. Your donation is key to helping us reach our target of $130,000 by Tuesday 31st January.

Your gift is vital to carrying out these types of long-term projects:

  • $50 could provide food for one adult Cassowary for a week
  • $250 could help with the planting and maintenance of 25 native rainforest trees to help restore or create Cassowary corridors
  • $750 could cover the care of an injured or orphaned Cassowary over an 18-month period
  • $1000 could contribute to the preservation of 200 square metres of Cassowary habitat

The work of caring for and protecting the rainforest, on your behalf, never stops. As the annual cyclone season begins, a gift from you now can do so much to protect the Endangered Southern Cassowary, which is extremely vuolnerable at this time of year.

Please make a donation by Tuesday 31st December. Together, we can protect and restore habitat that is critical to the survival of the Southern Cassowary - and the many rainforest plants and animals that in turn rely on the 'rainforest gardener' for their survival.

The Cassowary is critical to rainforest ecology
The Cassowary is critical to rainforest ecology
A Cassowary requires 250ha in which to breed
A Cassowary requires 250ha in which to breed
Traffic is the No.1 cause of Cassowary mortality
Traffic is the No.1 cause of Cassowary mortality
Fragmentation exposes habitat to cyclonic events
Fragmentation exposes habitat to cyclonic events
Thanks from all of us at Rainforest Rescue
Thanks from all of us at Rainforest Rescue

Dear Friends & Supporters

Thanks to your wonderful support a futher 14,362 trees have been planted to restore habitat for the Endangered Southern Cassowary

There's something about Rainforest Rescue's Cassowary Conservation Reserve that inspires people to toil on its behalf, rain or shine....and that has certainly be the case this year with a further 14,362 trees planted over the past twelve months. All of this undertaken by our dedicated Daintree Land Manager Joe Reichl and a handful of passionate volunteers.

This 27.66 hectare property was purchased by Rainforest Rescue in 2010 and has been the focus of our restoration efforts ever since. As a result of a long history of abuse, from a combination of clearing, grazing and Oil Palm cultivation, almost two-thirds of the property was severely degraded with a mass tangle of impenetrable weeds, dumped cars and rubbish. The worst of the weeds was the dreaded Oil Palm; greedily self-seeding across the property.

Situated at the base of the statuesque Thornton's Peak the property provides a critical wildlife corridor between the Daintree Lowland Rainforest and the upper reaches of the Daintree National Park/World Heritage Area. Cassowaries are often spotted traversing through the property with the area classified as containing "essential habitat" for the Endangered Southern Cassowary.

The work being undertaken on the property is part of a three year project which will see a total of 30,000 trees planted on site with a further 59,000 to be facilitated through natural regeneration. All of the trees are grown in our Daintree Rainforest Nursery using locally sourced seeds which adds further integrity to this project.

In addition to the planting the site is also being used as the basis of a research project to record the growth rate of new plantings alongside the natural regeneration that occurs on the site. The research is being headed by rainforest ecologist and botanist Dr Robert Kooyman and facilitated on the ground by our Daintree Land Manager Joe Reichl.

So far two monitoring cycles have been completed. This involves recording the number and size of all planted stems and natural regrowth and the rate and development of the canopy and leaf litter cover. Our project is featured on the Ecological Management & Restoration Project Summaries website and includes a table of the monitoring results to date.

one of the three highest priority precincts in the Daintree Lowlands. The property exhibits Regional Ecosystem 7.3.10 which is described as being 'complex mesophyll vine forest' which is listed as ‘endangered’ under the Queensland Vegetation Management Act 1999. - See more at: http://www.rainforestrescue.org.au/ourprojects/daintree-property-13.html#sthash.aplFiTcd.dpuf
one of the three highest priority precincts in the Daintree Lowlands. The property exhibits Regional Ecosystem 7.3.10 which is described as being 'complex mesophyll vine forest' which is listed as ‘endangered’ under the Queensland Vegetation Management Act 1999. - See more at: http://www.rainforestrescue.org.au/ourprojects/daintree-property-13.html#sthash.aplFiTcd.dpuf

Walking around this property one cannot but be amazed at the incredible transformation that has taken place in the last three years. The wildlife is returning, with Cassowaries visiting almost daily. The vigorous growth of the plantings has replaced a degraded landscape with a vibrant young rainforest and a rapidly developing rainforest canopy.

This restoration project provides a living example of how we can make a difference. Working together we can both protect and restore biodiverse rainforests into the future.

Thank you so much for supporting on projects to protect and restore habitat for the Cassowary. Please donate now to help us continue this vitally important work.

For futher information on our projects please visit our website at www.rainforestrescue.org.au. You can also keep up-to-date by following us on Facebook.

Cassowaries are frequenting the planting site
Cassowaries are frequenting the planting site
New rainforest habitat is quickly forming
New rainforest habitat is quickly forming
Dr Kooyman & Edie documenting plant species
Dr Kooyman & Edie documenting plant species

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Organization Information

Rainforest Rescue

Location: MULLUMBIMBY, NSW - Australia
Website: http:/​/​www.rainforestrescue.org.au
Project Leader:
Kaley Morrissey
Donor Care Executive
MULLUMBIMBY, NSW Australia
$19,852 raised of $80,000 goal
 
259 donations
$60,148 to go
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