Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Cassowary

This week’s EPIC creature is the second heaviest and third largest flightless bird, the Cassowary! You might ask: Why this bird over it’s cousins, the Emu and Ostrich? Well, that’s because neither of those birds could cause as much damage to you as the Cassowary! This 1.5m tall bird with its 125mm talons can disembowel you with one kick from its ferociously strong legs. As if this creature wasn’t dangerous enough, it goes for the throat - it would rather slit your throat than disembowel you but it’ll do that if it has to. WWII troops stationed in New Guinea were warned not to go around them as they will attack if they feel threatened, even the army was afraid of this EPIC bird! These birds live in a few different areas, such as New Guinea, Northeastern Australia, Aru Islands, New Britain, and Yapen.

To add to the EPIC nature of these birds, they are excellent jumpers, (jumping up to 1.5 metres!) very good swimmers, (they are known to swim in large rivers as well as the ocean) and they can run at 50Km/h. You can neither run nor hide from a Cassowary; it will get you if it wants to. To make it even scarier, the crest on its head (casques) is what it uses to make it’s trademark low growl which a very deep terrifying noise! It is like something prehistoric is coming after you, it’ll make you think you are in Jurassic Park all of a sudden.

 The best way to defend yourself from them is similar to a bear, get between something (like a tree) and the Cassowary and try to back away from it slowly with your arms in the air; though even then it might still chase you down.

All that said, they are actually shy solitary animals, they tend to know you are around long before you notice them and they will usually disappear into the rainforest. They are very excellent hiders; people believe it is because of its dark feathers and wedge shaped body. The males have a 7 km2 territory and the females have separate but overlapping territory that blend into the male’s, no surprised there.

One unique thing about these birds is that the only times one Cassowary meets another is to court, fight or if there is an abundance of food. When a male courts a female and is successful the female with make a heap style nest and leave the male to hatch the egg and rear the chick for 9 months. Once the female feels the male is doing fine with the egg, she will leave the male to find another and continue the cycle.
Cassowary eat a variety of things (flowers, fungi, snails, insects, frogs, birds, fish, rats, mice and carrion), most of them being fruit. The Cassowary is a keystone creature for the rainforest since it eats a lot of fruit and poops out seeds all over the place, which causes new trees and plants to grow - important for the rainforest to survive.

I bet you are wondering what they taste like; I bet you think it taste like chicken or turkey. One thing I do know from research is that their meat is very tough. It is said that if you were to cook Cassowary that you should put a stone in the water as well, once the stone is soft enough to eat then so is the Cassowary.

Many people fear this animal, and some want to kill them because they can kill us. Their attacks may be lethal, but they are not that common, we kill more of them with our cars then they kill us. Once, two teens, a 14 year old and a 16 year old decided to try and kill a Cassowary with a club. Instead, the Cassowary (being EPIC) kicked the 14 year old on the ground. The other teen tried to distract it but the Cassowary knocked him down and slit his throat (causing him to later die from blood loss) while the 14 year old ran away.  What did they expect when they tried to attack something as EPIC as the Cassowary, that it will just lay down and accept it? NO it is going use those crazy talons and kick some butt!

1 comment:

  1. What do they taste like? According an account of a Korowai tribesman of New Guinea, in the book Among the Cannibals by Paul Raffaele, they taste like human. Or rather, human tastes like them.