Cyclone Yasi has affected cassowaries and other threatened wildlife species: and you can help them
This cassowary at the David Fleay Wildlife Park will be ok - but maybe not some of her cousins near Cairns
Many areas of forest, especially those that are fragmented, not buffered by large areas of forest surrounding them, have been severely damaged. The forests of Mission Beach, famous for its cassowaries, in particular suffered much damage.
Wildlife Tourism Australia members and Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland members have reported seeing cassowries, including chicks, wandering around affected areas since the cyclone, which is great. However, once they finish eating the fruits that fell to the ground during the heavy winds and rain, they will have very little food.
Those who lived through Cyclone Larry a few years ago recall that many cassowaries were hit by cars or attacked by dogs when wandering out of damaged forests in search of food.
So this may be a good time to actually see cassowaries, but also a very urgent time to come to their aid. Find out how by visiting the Save the Cassowary News page
Mahogany glider at the David Fleay Wildlife Park
The Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland reports that it is too soon to say how much of the endangered mahogany glider’s very restricted habitat has been lost, or how drastic the impact might have been on them.
This beautiful little animal has only been discovered in recent decades. Because its range is so restricted and its habitat (tall wet eucalypt forest) was disappearing so fast already, a few were captured some years ago and taken to the David Fleay Wildlife Park, where they have been breeding very successfully. Let’s hope though that these captive individuals are not now the only members of their species surviving. And as WPSQ points out, although we can fairly easily provide supplementary feeding to ground-feeding animals like the cassowaries to help them through a rough spot, it is difficult to do the same for animals that live high up in tall trees.
Other plants and animals – e.g. epiphytic ferns and orchids, and birds that eat fruit from rainforest canopies, will probably be hit fairly hard.
For travelers to Far North Queensland
There is still beautiful forest, animals to see and many activities to engage in, and Cairns itself was not badly damaged, nor were a number of other areas in the district, so if you are planning a trip to the far north of Queensland, don’t cancel (unless we hear warnings of another cyclone on the way). You can still have a great trip, and maybe even get a chance to pitch in and help with some of the aftermath in the worst-affected areas: that would certainly add to your experience and understanding of the region as well as being something of value you can contribute. If driving yourself, please take special care along the roads in case cassowaries and other creatures come suddenly from the forest seeking food or shelter elsewhere.