Rob South cassowary-web - Copy
The flightless cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) plays an essential part in maintaining the plant diversity of the wet tropics of Queensland, Australia, by dispersing the seeds of the fruit it eats. Of the 150 trees and vines which depend on the cassowary, 70 have seeds too large for other creatures to eat and 80 produce toxic seeds which only the cassowary can safely consume, thanks to its rapid digestive system. Without the cassowary, seeds would only germinate near parent trees and species would become confined to pockets, changing the structure of the forest. The double-wattled cassowary, as it is also known, is under threat from habitat destruction, traffic and dog attack (especially near residential areas where it becomes tame through hand feeding). There might be as few as 900 left although some estimates put the figure at 1500. The casque protects the bird's head as it runs through the forest undergrowth.


ARKive photos and videos of the southern cassowary

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