World’s toughest endangered bird a Cassowary

Just because it is flightless, a cassowary bird,’s 3 toed clawed feet are lethal weapons. These three claws—one slightly curved like a scimitar, the other two straight as daggers—that are so sharp New Guinea tribesmen use these claws over spear points to strengthen and protect their weapons!

The cassowary belongs to the emu family, an adult probably weighs about 140 pounds, The female stands 6 ‘ tall the male only 5’ and looks like a giant, prehistoric turkey. A cassowary can run up to 30 miles an hour and leap more than 3 feet in the air.

To move a cassowary Wildlife wardens must protect themselves clad in chain-saw chaps and groin protectors and wielding giant nets. They regularly transport problem cassowaries to back to their rain forest habitat.

Native to the tropical forests of New Guinea and northern Australia, fewer than 1,500 southern cassowaries live in Australia. These birds are foraging for food these days in suburbia outside their rain forest domain, because much of their Queensland rain-forest habitat has been cleared for sugar cane and banana plantations and a 15 year draught has plagued the area.

After she lays up to five, one-pound green to black colored eggs, the female leaves and lets the male build a rudimentary nest on the forest floor and incubate the eggs for almost two months.

The chicks follow the male for six to nine months after hatching as he protects them from predators such as wild pigs and dogs. He guides them to fruit trees within a home range several hundred acres in size to forage on the three hundred plus plants in their diet. Cassowaries are important for forest reforestation because they drop the seeds in their scat over a wide range of lands under the tropical forest canopy.

Brendan Borrell Smithsonian Magazine
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/phenomena-200810.html

image: http://www.qwasi.org/images/gail_higging/cassowary_L.jpg

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