And attacks in Queensland:
Anderson, I. (1996). “Please beware the cassowary”...
New Scientist. 151: issue 2046 - 07 September 96, page 5
Magazine section: This Week. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15120460-300-please-beware-the-cassowary/
TOURISTS and local people in Queensland have been warned: don't
feed the cassowaries. A kick from one of these giant flightless birds
can maim or even kill. Cassowaries are becoming increasingly
dependent on people for food. And if a handout isn't forthcoming,
the birds may lash out with the long, spike-like claws on their feet.
"The situation has become just like that with the black bear in the
US," says Christopher Kofron from the Queensland National Parks
and Wildlife Service in Cairns. "The bears raid campgrounds looking
for food. The cassowary associates humans with food. It will give
chase when it sees a human."
Kofron has been investigating the number of attacks by the
southern cassowary, Casuarius casuarius, in Queensland. The
cassowary, a native of northern Queensland and Papua New
Guinea, is larger than an ostrich. It weighs up to 85 kilograms and
stands up to 2 metres tall. The bird is on the endangered species
list in Australia. Kofron warned of the growing dangers of getting too
close to cassowaries at the World Heritage Tropical Forests
Conference in Cairns this week.
So far this year, there have been 80 reports of attacks in
Queensland. In most cases the birds simply chased people rather
than assaulting them. Last year, there were only 46 recorded
attacks. "There's no doubt that the number of attacks is increasing
as birds become more and more dependent on humans for food,"
At Mount Whitfield, near Cairns airport, walking trails have been
closed because of the frequency of attacks by two birds that live on
the mountain. But to Kofron the situation at Mount Whitfield
highlights the birds' plight. The birds migrated there during a
drought 20 years ago. Local people fed them and they stayed. Now
the mountain is cut off from suitable cassowary habitat by
deforestation and development. The birds, which normally feed on
fruit that falls from trees, are now almost entirely dependent on
humans for food and water. The story is repeated in other parts of
The birds are more likely to cause lacerations and scratches than
life-threatening wounds, but they can kill. "As far as I know the
cassowary is the only bird known to have killed a human," said
Kofron. "Only one death has been recorded in Queensland—a
16-year-old boy, who was attacking the bird, bled to death when his
throat was punctured." That was back in 1926. Since 1988, five
people have suffered serious injury.
From: Geoffrey Dabb [
Sent: Monday, 15 April 2019 8:36 AM
Subject: FW: [canberrabirds] out of area Cassowary kills man
In some parts of New Guinea they are kept as pets in villages, being used in traditional bride-price transactions. Quite often there are reports of a villager being killed by one.
From: Con Boekel <m("boekel.com.au","con");">>
Sent: Sunday, 14 April 2019 7:11 PM
To: canberrabirds chatline <m("canberrabirds.org.au","canberrabirds");">>
Subject: [canberrabirds] out of area Cassowary kills man