National Geographic : 2013 Sep
he tucks his head down low, inflates his neck, and makes a series of low booming noises. As he does this, his feathers puff up. When he sits down, the chicks cuddle up to him, often snug- gling into his feathers. The chicks have obviously different temper- aments. One is adventurous, and wanders far from the family group; sometimes this triggers booming from Dad. Another chick is timid, and keeps close to Dad. This one often seeks its father’s attention. Now and then they touch the tips of their bills together—a cassowary kiss?— but the contact seems to be instigated by the chick, not the father. The chick also picks ticks off its father’s neck and eats them. Yum. Dad and the chicks seem to follow a loose routine. They eat in the morning, rest during the hot part of the day, and eat again toward dusk. Sometimes they go for a bath in a creek. A bird of prey—a goshawk—has a nest high in a nearby 17°S 18° 146°E 147° Mount Pieter Botte (Nulbullulul) Bartle Frere (South Peak) 5,322 ft 1,622 m GREATDIVIDINGRANGE Atherton Tableland Daintree Rainforest Innisfail Cairns Kuranda Townsville Mission Beach Ingham QUEENSLAND 0mi 500 0km 500 Southern cassowary range INDONESIA PAPUA NEW GUINEA AUSTRALIA Coral Sea AREA ENLARGED NewGuinea Cassowary eggs (above) are several times larger than chicken eggs. The male sits on them for more than 40 days. In the Wet Tropics of north- eastern Australia (detail, left) conservationists and communities are working to establish cassowary habitat corridors in a region frag- mented by roads, farms, and houses. At right, Mount Pieter Botte, or Nulbullulul, rises above the Daintree Rainforest, one of the largest remaining areas of intact cassowary habitat. 0mi 20 0km 20 Southern cassowary habitat Primary Secondary Wet Tropics bioregion Proposed or partially completed restoration corridor Hot spot for cassowary deaths from traffic accidents and dog attacks Jerome N. CooksoN, NGm staff. sourCes: QueeNsLaND DePartmeNt of eNVIroNmeNt aND HerItaGe ProteCtIoN; Wet troPICs maNaGemeNt autHorIty; IuCN Wet Tropics bioregion Defined by mountains, high rainfall, and unique flora and fauna, most of this area was at one time cassowary habitat. Deforestation Clearing for agriculture, logging, and urban development has reduced and fragmented habitat on the coastal lowlands and atherton tableland.