Don’t be fooled by their bad-bird reputation – cassowaries need your help.
Only 1000 southern cassowaries, known for the large horn-like casque on their head, are thought to remain in far north Queensland.
Growing to a height of up to 180cm, the cassowary has long been regarded as the world’s most dangerous bird.
But according to Rainforest Rescue conservation scientist Jennifer Croes, that’s a title Australia’s heaviest bird doesn’t deserve.
“All a myth, all a myth,” she told AAP.
“There’s definitely no records that show they’re the world’s most dangerous bird.
“Only if provoked and only through habituation by people through hand feeding can they potentially be a little bit more angry.”
Cassowaries are fewer in number than the giant panda.
The largest wild pocket of them at Mission Beach, about 140 kilometres south of Cairns, has an estimated 40-50 birds.
On Monday Rainforest Rescue launched a partnership with the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, councils, zoos and other groups to boost awareness of the giant bird’s plight.
The campaign will include land buybacks and rehabilitation, monitoring projects and public education programs about threats from habitat destruction, dog attacks and traffic dangers.
At the campaign’s launch in Sydney, Ms Croes said 60 birds had been reportedly hit by cars in the past decade.
“We’re hoping we can reduce the speed limit … around the Mission Beach area, from 80 (km/h) to 60 and hopefully maybe to 40,” she told AAP.
“We can also try to change community behaviour and attitudes to coexist with this bird.”
Cassowaries are held in captivity in every Australian state and territory and subject to a nationwide breeding program.