Helping the rainforest to survive
Papua wildlife relies on the forest to survive. Without certain plants and trees animals wouldn’t be able to flourish - the forest provides food, shelter, and the right environment for animals to pick a mate.
But the forest also relies on the wildlife to survive.
Cassowaries play an important role in helping the rainforests, they eat hundreds of different kinds of fruit, and they eat them whole meaning the seeds stay intact. Without going into too much detail the cassowaries then spread the seeds throughout the rainforest.
So, other evidence you can look out for that signals you’re close to a cassowary is their droppings. These dropping may be a shade of blue, which is a sign that they have been eating on the fruits of the forest.
Sadly, cassowary numbers are in decline as a result of human activity - they are heavily hunted by some local communities for food but their forest home is also under threat as trees are cleared to make way for oil-palm plantations. (Learn more about palm oil here.)
Oil palm plantation, photo credit: Rhett A Butler/ mongabay.com
The cassowary doesn’t fly. Over time, this bird has adapted to eventually lose their flight feathers and become heavier and bigger. This was due to there being no ground-dwelling predators in Papua, meaning there was no need for them to escape quickly or worry about raising their chicks. There also tends to be plenty of food on the forest floors for them to feast on.
Learn more about the Southern cassowary here.