Rare Cape Cassowary sighting comes as another in hot pursuit

Rowan Anderson


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The cassowary sighting captured IMAGE: Yunara Charlie
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Impressive in size and speed the cassowary is a sight to be seen, just ask the three Ipima Ikaya men who had a sighting of the vulnerable species recently.

The first in four years in this part of Cape York with the encounter taking place during a six-day trip conducted by Ipima Ikaya Country Traditional Owners and facilitated by Cape York Natural Resource Management.

The last sighting recorded there was in October 2018, but camera traps set up following that sighting didn’t produce many clear images.

The men are hopeful that with their training in technology that further proof of the bird’s presence will be captured into the future.

One of the men, Pat Williams, was aware of the time that had passed between sightings so when he heard the bird’s call, he was overjoyed to say the least.

“Being out on Country and taking the young fellas out there, hearing the cassowary call, then seeing it walk into camp, that was really something,” he said.

“I heard its sound, and we were all silent, then it was here.”

The cassowary walked through the researcher’s camp before returning later for a second time, leaving its prints in the mud.

Through their observations and measuring those prints, the team was able to identify it as a large female.

To the Ipima Ikaya people the bird is known as ‘wadthunny’ and even though it is a distant shot of the bird it stands as visual proof of their presence in the region.

The group set up camera traps across 14 locations, which will capture images over a two-month period.

Visual lures are used to draw birds in front of the cameras in hopes of capturing images and further proof of the species presence.

The Ipima Ikaya Traditional Owners will play an ongoing role in the cassowary monitoring activities in the area.

This photo comes while another cassowary encounter caught a group of rangers by surprise in tropical bushland.

The video has gone viral with the athleticism and speed of the beautiful bird on display - chasing Wuthathi rangers on a quad bike through Cape York bushland.

Custodian co-ordinator Clayton Enoch said it was amazing to get so close to a healthy uthini, which is the Wuthathi word for “cassowary”.

Enoch told Newsport that he had been working up through the Cape for most of his life but this moment was very unique.

“It was such a great experience,” Mr Enoch said.

“The colours stood out in amongst the bush, and it was a very healthy specimen.

“I've been working up there mainly with crocodiles and I've never seen any cassowary.

“First time I really had a one on one like that with a cassowary.”

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