Sci­en­tists on cas­sowary trail

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - AN­GELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

RE­SEARCH into the roam­ing be­hav­iour of ju­ve­nile cas­sowaries has re­vealed they can travel long dis­tances but al­ways re­turn home.

A Univer­sity Queens­land study by Dr Hamish Camp­bell has been study­ing the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of ju­ve­nile cas­sowaries, where they make their home and how far they travel.

“Ini­tially we tracked adult birds and now we’re fo­cussing on the ju­ve­nile birds and have re­leased five ju­ve­nile cas­sowaries so far,” he said.

“One male moved a range of 40 to 50km within about four to five weeks, we ac­tu­ally re­leased him in a spot and col­lected the tag six months later and it was only 500m from where he was re­leased.

“We thought he hadn’t moved far, but when we re­viewed the data he had been up to Wu­jal Wu­jal on the Bloom­field River, skirted through some agri­cul­tural land and came back through the Cape Tribu­la­tion Range to the Dono­van Range re­lease site.”

The re­search re­vealed male cas­sowaries move far­ther than the fe­males and they all show hom­ing be­hav­iour, com­ing back to the spot they were re­leased.

“We need to do a lot more tag­ging of birds to un­der­stand if these pat­terns are prom­i­nent within the pop­u­la­tion and not just the be­hav­iour of an in­di­vid­ual,” Prof Camp­bell said.

“We are keen to un­der­stand the sur­vivor­ship us­ing tech­nol­ogy to tag the birds to en­able us to log the bird’s lo­ca­tion over six months, which we hope to in­crease to a year to es­tab­lish how quickly they es­tab­lish home.”

The study is still con­tin­u­ing and sci­en­tists are get­ting ready for the next batch of re­ha­bil­i­tated ju­ve­nile cas­sowaries or­phaned by Cy­clone Yasi to reach 12-15 months when they can be tagged and re­leased back into the wild to study their be­hav­iour.

“We are plan­ning on tag­ging them to un­der­stand bet­ter how these birds be­have in the wild and pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on them to im­prove the suc­cess of birds in their habi­tat,” Prof Camp­bell said.

“They are re­ally dif­fi­cult birds to tag, it’s been quite a com­plex process de­vel­op­ing pro­ce­dures and tech­nol­ogy and putting it all to­gether.

“Putting the de­vice on cas­sowaries and re­leas­ing them some­where in the Dain­tree and hope to find them again six months later is not easy.”

On the move: an adult fe­male with the Gps-based track­ing de­vice

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