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Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
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Photo: C & D Frith
Wet Tropics Rainforest Life

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Cassowary Food Plant List`

Seed Dispersal

  • Not only do the Cassowaries need the forest to survive but the Cassowaries are important to the forests survival as well.

  • They are important dispersers of forest fruit, especially those with seeds too large to be carried by other birds and native wildlife.

  • The Cassowary has a distinctive dung pile which can contain many seeds. The dung provides the seeds with mulch to conserve moisture and makes the seeds less attractive as a food source to native rats.

  • The Cassowaries in north Queensland are known to feed on the fruit from around 150 plants.

  • Most of these fruits are from rainforest trees, although fruits from palms, pandanus, herbs and vines are also eaten.

  • Cassowaries aren't confined to the rainforests but also move into the open eucalypt woodland and Melaleuca forest where they can eat a variety of species.

  • Since the fruits are swallowed whole the Cassowary passes the seeds intact ready for germination.
    One dung pile (up to 1Kg in weight) may contain fruit gathered from a 1ha, depending on the season and location.

Plant Rainforest Trees    

  • Isolated areas of forest can be made more useful to wildlife if they are enlarged and linked by vegetation corridors

  • Replanting rainforest habitat and planting corridors of trees between important areas will increase the Cassowary's living space.

  • Revegetating an area of land that is less productive agriculturally can be made productive for all native wildlife, including the cassowaries.


  • By planting tree corridors between isolated forest patches it increases the area that the native wildlife have to live in.

  • Corridors can be useful for humans as well, because they serve as windbreaks and also act as screens for privacy.

  • Natural regeneration can be encouraged by fencing off around the forest patches to protect the area from stock damage. This method involves controlling weeds at the forests edge so native species can reclaim the area.

  • Planting of select plant species (See table) will speed up regeneration and help to limit weeds.

  • Creeks and streams are the ideal place to start regeneration.

  • Replanting stream banks reduces erosion, helps improve water quality and provides wildlife a corridor in which they can move around safely.

Variety is important

  • Planting a variety of trees will help ensure a wider range of wildlife is enticed back to the area and will provide a source of food all year.

  • 30% of the trees planted should be 'cover species'. These plants will aid weed suppression and as they are fast growing and produce fruit at an earlier age, they will also help attract seed dispersing birds.

  • These birds will bring seeds from neighbouring areas and help increase plant diversity.

  • Ensure cover species are planted throughout the area and keep all plants around 2m apart.

  • The easiest way to judge how quickly planted areas are becoming habitat is the number of birds in your area. As the trees grow more birds will begin to return to the area.

  • WARNING! Cassowaries are wild animals and as with all wild animals should  not be encouraged to visit houses for food. Planting trees to provide them with their natural food source will help them to stay in the wild and stick to their natural diet.

What else you can do to help

  • Supporting the Australian Rainforest Foundation is a great way to show your support for the Southern Cassowary. The foundation is a non-profit organization that has made the conservation of the Cassowary one of its primary goals.

  • You can adopt a hectare of rainforest for $50 and receive a signed certificate of recognition and appreciation.

  • You can also become a supporting member or make a donation by contacting the foundation by phoning (07) 4051 2000, or by e-mail  

return to Southern Cassowary main page
Cassowary Food Plant List

Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges
Lake Eacham, Atherton Tablelands
Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
PH & Fax: 07 4095 3754 International: 61 7 4095 3754

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