Inhabiting dense tropical rainforests of Northern Queensland, the Southern Cassowary is a keystone species, contributing to the ecosystem by dispersing seeds of over 200 plant species throughout the rainforest. Due to habitat fragmentation and modification, road accidents have become the greatest single cause of cassowary death.
Early in 2016 Taronga established a conservation partnership with Girringun Aboriginal Corporation to protect the Southern Cassowary (Gunduy) in co-managed Indigenous Protected Area. Gunduy is a totem species and is of great cultural significance to Gulnay Traditional Owners.
The main elements of the partnership are to restore natural habitat, increase remaining habitat connectivity for Gunduy and manage threatening processes wherever possible. Cassowary is mainly threatened by habitat loss, as well as road kill. There is a strong community component as well, where cooperation among Junior Rangers, Schools, community groups, and regional co-management partners in the habitat restoration is critical for the effective protection of the Cassowary.
The project team has been very active the last couple of months. They have consulted with different stakeholders to prioritise locations for habitat restoration, and have collected Gunduy plant seeds and started propagation in Girringun native nurseries for later tree planting. Girringun Rangers together with Gulnay Traditional Owners have also installed camera traps to monitor wildlife and assist in determining population and habitat viability at new planting sites. Watch this space for more updates!