Overview

Comprehensive Description

Northern Cassowary


Other common names: One wattled/Single wattled Cassowary


It has hard and stiff black plumage, blue facial skin and a casque on top of the head. It has a bright red or yellow colored neck and wattle. The feet are huge and strong with long, dagger-like claw on its inner toe. The sexes are similar. The male, at 30 kg, is smaller than female, at 58 kg, making it the worlds third heaviest living bird species after the Ostrich and Southern Cassowary. These birds measure 149 cm long and stand 1.5–1.8 m in height.


Taxonomy: Four subspecies (unappendiculatus, occipitalis, aurantiacus and philipi) or more traditionally recognized, but good evidence for their validity lacking. Monotypic.

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Northern Cassowary


Other common names: One wattled/Single wattled Cassowary


It has hard and stiff black plumage, blue facial skin and a casque on top of the head. It has a bright red or yellow colored neck and wattle. The feet are huge and strong with long, dagger-like claw on its inner toe. The sexes are similar. The male, at 30 kg, is smaller than female, at 58 kg, making it the worlds third heaviest living bird species after the Ostrich and Southern Cassowary. These birds measure 149 cm long and stand 1.5–1.8 m in height.


Taxonomy: Four subspecies (unappendiculatus, occipitalis, aurantiacus and philipi) or more traditionally recognized, but good evidence for their validity lacking. Monotypic.

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Distribution

Range Description

Casuarius unappendiculatus is restricted to the northern lowlands of New Guinea (Papua, formerly Irian Jaya, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea). Its distribution on the Vogelkop is poorly known, but it is known from Yapen, Batanta and Salawati islands (Coates 1985, Eastwood 1996, B. Beehler in litt. 2000). There are few records as this region is seldom visited. There are recent records from Batanta, Salawati and Waigeo in north-west Papua, but several other surveys in Papua have failed to find it (Eastwood 1996, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1999, Mack and Alonso 2000). It is usually less common where hunted (K. D. Bishop in litt. 1999), but large areas of its range are remote with few hunters and it is suspected to be fairly common in the foothills of the Foja Mountains of western New Guinea (B. Beehler in litt. 2012). Beyond these scattered records, there are no data on population or trends.

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Range

Lowlands of New Guinea, Yapen I. and w Papuan islands.

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North of New Guinea, and nearby Japen I and Salawati I.

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North of New Guinea, and nearby Japen I and Salawati I.

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Physical Description

Size

The male has 30 kg and  female 58 kg. Birds measure 149 cm in length and 1.5–1.8 m in height.

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The male has 30 kg and  female 58 kg. Birds measure 149 cm in length and 1.5–1.8 m in height.

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Diagnostic Description

Northern Cassowary


Other common names: One wattled/Single wattled Cassowary


It has hard and stiff black plumage, blue facial skin and a casque on top of the head. It has a bright red or yellow colored neck and wattle. The feet are huge and strong with long, dagger-like claw on its inner toe. The sexes are similar. The male, at 30 kg, is smaller than female, at 58 kg, making it the worlds third heaviest living bird species after the Ostrich and Southern Cassowary. These birds measure 149 cm long and stand 1.5–1.8 m in height.


Taxonomy: Four subspecies (unappendiculatus, occipitalis, aurantiacus and philipi) or more traditionally recognized, but good evidence for their validity lacking. Monotypic.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It inhabits lowland forest, including swamp-forest, to 700 m (Coates 1985. Beehler et al. 1986). Its ecology is poorly known but presumed to be similar to that of C. casuarius and it is reported to be an obligate frugivore with a critical ecological role as a seed disperser in New Guinea.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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They prefer elevations below 490 m.

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They prefer elevations below 490 m.

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Trophic Strategy

Feeds on large fruits collected from forest ground.

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Feeds on large fruits collected from forest ground.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

It is a shy and solitary bird. They make grunting and hissing sounds. In breeding season, the polygamous female lays three to five green eggs on a well camouflaged nest prepared by male, she leaves the nest and eggs to find another mate. The male raises the chicks alone for about nine months.

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It is a shy and solitary bird. They make grunting and hissing sounds. In breeding season, the polygamous female lays three to five green eggs on a well camouflaged nest prepared by male, she leaves the nest and eggs to find another mate. The male raises the chicks alone for about nine months.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 22 years (captivity)
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
C2a(i)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Symes, A. & Butchart, S.

Contributor/s
Beehler, B., Bishop, K., Burrows, I. & Whitney, B.

Justification
This species is classified as Vulnerable on the basis of an estimated small, declining population. However, there are few data and, although this species is generally scarce, it is often shy. Basic research may lead to reclassification.

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Vulnerable

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Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

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Population

Population
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
All cassowaries Casuarius spp. are heavily hunted close to populated areas and this species may be particularly vulnerable as it has a preference for river floodplains which are highly populated (B. Whitney in litt. 2000). As well as constituting a major food source for subsistence communities, it has a major cultural importance, including use as gifts in pay-back ceremonies, the feathers and bones as decoration and bones as tools (Coates 1985, Beehler et al. 1986, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1999). Chicks captured on hunts are reared in villages for trade and consumption, but there is no breeding of domesticated birds (I. Burrows in litt. 1994). This hunting and trade is not sustainable in many areas and has led to its extirpation from some sites, as the species is traded at a sub-national level to supply markets in more densely populated areas (Johnson et al. 2004). Increasing human populations and the spread of shotguns increasingly being used for hunting exacerbate hunting pressure on the species. It can probably survive in selectively logged forest, but logging roads open up previously inaccessible forests to hunting (K. D. Bishop in litt. 1999). Although cassowaries appear to survive in some hunted areas, this is dependent on the local culture and the availability of weapons and alternative meat-sources (Beehler 1985, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1999).

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Due to ongoing habitat lost and overhunting in some areas, the Northern Cassowary is evaluated as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with hunting being the biggest threat. Native people use the bones and eggs, and take the chicks to be raised for meat. As logging opens up more areas of the forest, hunting will be more of a problem. Their occurrence range is 186,000 km2 and a 2000 estimate placed their numbers at 9300.

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Due to ongoing habitat lost and overhunting in some areas, the Northern Cassowary is evaluated as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with hunting being the biggest threat. Native people use the bones and eggs, and take the chicks to be raised for meat. As logging opens up more areas of the forest, hunting will be more of a problem. Their occurrence range is 186,000 km2 and a 2000 estimate placed their numbers at 9300.

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions Underway
A village based survey has been connducted in Papua New Guinea investigating sustainability of wildlife capture and trade (Johnson et al. 2004).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey distribution of this and C. casuarius in Vogelkop using camera-trapping methods. Gather demographic data on the species to inform sustainable harvest calculations. Research and quantify the effects of hunting, and use this information to inform community-based wildlife management providing local communities with sustainable catch quotas. Research and quantify the effects of logging. Survey extensive areas through discussion with local hunters. Develop a repeatable monitoring technique in protected areas. Monitor populations in protected areas. Campaign for non-hunting protected areas in Papua New Guinea such as April-Saulemei or Ramu lowlands. Use this species as a figurehead for establishing ecotourism-funded protected areas. Liaise with Australian research and action on C. casuarius.
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Wikipedia

Northern Cassowary

The northern cassowary (Casuarius unappendiculatus) also known as the single (one)-wattled cassowary [2] or gold(en)-neck(ed) cassowary, is a large, stocky flightless bird of northern New Guinea. They are members of the superorder Paleognathae. (See also dwarf cassowary and southern cassowary.)

Taxonomy[edit]

Edward Blyth first identified the northern cassowary from a specimen from an aviary located in Calcutta, India, in 1860.[2] The genus name Casuarius is derived from the Malay word kesuari "cassowary", while the species name unappendiculatus refers to the species' single wattle.[3] Officially, there are no subspecies, though some authors list several subspecies.[4][5]

Description[edit]

It has hard and stiff black plumage, blue facial skin and a casque on top of the head. It has a bright red or yellow colored neck and wattle. The feet are huge and strong with long, dagger-like claw on its inner toe. The sexes are similar. The male, at 30 to 37 kg (66 to 82 lb), is smaller than female, at an average of 58 kg (128 lb), making it the world's third heaviest living bird species after the ostrich and the similarly-sized southern cassowary.[2] These birds measure 149 cm (4.9 ft) long and stand 1.5–1.8 m (4.9–5.9 ft) in height.[2] Compared to the southern cassowary, the northern cassowary has a slightly shorter bill, at 12 to 13.7 cm (4.7 to 5.4 in), but a slightly longer tarsal length, at 28 to 33.2 cm (11.0 to 13.1 in).[2]

Phylogeny[edit]

Casuariidae is the family of the northern cassowary. There are only four members, three of which are Cassowaries; the other, the only remaining species of emu. All are similar. Emus were classified in a different family until it was decided that they are similar enough to the cassowaries that they could be classified in the same family. All four members of the Casuariidae are large flightless birds. The northern cassowary and the emu share homologous features. For example, both have a blue patch of colour on their face/neck, but the functions of these differ. The emu’s patch is of a paler colour and is used as a form of camouflage where it is located. The northern cassowary’s patch of blue is brighter, and is used for attracting mates.

Range and habitat[edit]

The northern cassowary is distributed and endemic to coastal swamp and lowland rainforests of northern New Guinea and the islands of Yapen,[6] Batanta and Salawati.[7] They prefer elevations below 490 m (1,610 ft).[2]

Breeding population and trends[7]
LocationPopulationTrend
Northern Papua New GuineaUnknownDeclining
YapenUnknownDeclining
BatantaUnknownDeclining
SalawatiUnknownDeclining
WaigeoUnknownDeclining
Total2,500 to 10,000Declining

Behaviour[edit]

As with other cassowaries, it is a shy and solitary bird. Their diet consists mainly of fruits [2] and small animals. They make grunting and hissing sounds, like other cassowaries.[7]

In breeding season, the polygamous female lays three to five green eggs on a well camouflaged nest prepared by male, she leaves the nest and eggs to find another mate. The male raises the chicks alone for about nine months.

Conservation[edit]

Due to ongoing habitat lost and overhunting in some areas, the Northern Cassowary is evaluated as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,[1] with hunting being the biggest threat.[7] Native people use the bones and eggs, and take the chicks to be raised for meat. As logging opens up more areas of the forest, hunting will be more of a problem.[1][2] Their occurrence range is 186,000 km2 (72,000 sq mi) and a 2000 estimate placed their numbers at 9300.[7]

Gallery[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2012). "Casuarius unappendiculatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Davies, S. J. J. F. (2003)
  3. ^ Gotch, A. F. (1995)
  4. ^ Avibase
  5. ^ Brands, S. (2008)
  6. ^ Clements, J (2007)
  7. ^ a b c d e BirdLife International (2008)(a)

References[edit]

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