Cassowary's are about – look like a tree!

Travel Advice: Cape Tribulation, Australia

When I was backpacking, I spent a little bit of time in North-Eastern Australia, in particular camping around Cape Tribulation, a protected World Heritage site.  Cape Tribulation is a coastal paradise, with tropical mangrove swamps behind you and flat sandy beaches and crystal blue waters in front.  A real haven.

Whilst there, I was told by our bus driver that you better watch-out, it’s Cassowary territory and these guy are out to get us all.  To me this is what horror movies are made of – an untimely, embarrassing death by a chubby, multi-coloured bird.

Look like a tree!

Source, Flickr: Blaji Dutt, Cassowary
Source, Flickr: Blaji Dutt, The Cassowary

Stepping off the bus in the middle of the mangroves, the driver said “oh, and by the way, if you don’t want to be disemboweled, put your hands and arms up in the air and try to look like a tree…”  I wasn’t too clued up on whether the bus driver was joking or not but he certainly wasn’t laughing as he drove away.

I spoke to my girlfriend about how vague that advice was, whilst looking for reassurance on whether I looked more scary as a willow or an oak…

The Infamous Cassowary

In reality, the cassowary is a large, shy, flightless bird, native to this unique part of the world and also New Guinea.  They are a protected species, and running at very low numbers, eating fruits, berry’s and the odd insect or snake.  They are part of the ratite group of birds, including such species as the emu, ostrich and kiwi (the bird not the fruit). The cassowary is made of of 3 species, the Southern, the Dwarf and the Northern Cassowary, each of which has a horn-like crest on their head, called a casque.

The most dangerous bird in the world

Source, Flickr: Takomabibelot
Source, Flickr: Takomabibelot, Cassowary

Although  the cassowary is a relatively shy bird, it has some pretty impressive defense mechanisms that makes it quite a formidable opponent.  The cassowary is smaller than the ostrich and emu, but can still grow to almost 7 foot tall.  It has three-toed feet with sharp claws including a dagger-like claw which can be as long as 12cm long. In situations where the cassowary feels threatened, the Cassowary can use it to kill an enemy, disemboweling it with a single kick. If they miss the first time and decide to chase you they can run at 30mph, and are good swimmers too – is there anything they can’t do?! […I’ve just been told that they’re rubbish at hop-scotch].

Your thoughts…

Have you been told any tips, tricks or local folklore that you thought just can’t have been true, but kind of niggled away at you making you think you better do it just in case?!


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