Friday, October 15, 2010


The Southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is large ratite found in Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.  They are rainforest dwellers and cannot fly.

Common Names
The Southern cassowary is also known as the the double-wattled cassowary, the Australian cassowary or the two-wattled cassowary.

Physical Features
The southern cassowary is the largest Asian bird (part of Papua New Guinea is given to Asia) since the extinction of the larger giant moa and the Arabian ostrich.  It is the third tallest bird, being shorter than the ostrich and the emu.  Despite being the third shortest bird, it is the second heaviest and is lighter than the ostrich.  They have three toes on each foot which are very powerful and are used as defense.  The southern cassowary has a blue neck and face, a black body color and two wattles dangling from the neck which are red in color.  They have a casque which is brown.  Their inner toes are 12 cm long.  Females are larger than males.  They weigh 85 kilograms.  This massive range from 130cm to 190 cm and females have an average weight of 58kilograms while males weigh 34 kilograms.

Conservation Status                      Southern cassowary of Cairns Tropical Zoo
The numbers of the southern cassowary are declining in Australia, but is quite stable in Papua New Guinea.  With an estimated population of 2500 in Australia, they are threatened due to habitat destruction and because of human encroachment.  There are breeding programs in many places to save this bird.  They have a total population of about 20,000 individuals and therefore are not considered as endangered.  They are classified as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List.

The southern cassowary is found in the rainforests of Indonesia. Papua New Guinea and Australia

The southern cassowary is a close relative of the kiwi and is classified into the the family Casuariidae.  These two birds (the southern cassowary and the kiwi) are related to a bird which existed 40 million years.  They are in the class Aves like all birds.  the class Aves are again related to reptiles like snakes, lizards, crocodiles, etc.  Most zoologists believe that there are subspecies of this bird, but there has been no prove.

Picture 1 was kindly photographed and offered by Nita Pratap.

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