10 May 2023

Like a scene out of Jurassic Park: annoyed cassowary chases rangers

| Samuel Davis
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CAPE York rangers have narrowly escaped the deadly claws of an angry cassowary – and walked away with footage to prove it.

Several Wuthathi Land and Sea custodians were inspecting an overgrown track near Shelburne Bay recently when they came into contact with the angry bird.

Senior custodian Cameron Wilson had just passed through a patch of rainforest on his quad bike when he spotted the cassowary chasing him at full speed.

After hitting an embankment, Mr Wilson stared down the cassowary for a “tense” eight minutes before ranger Clayton Enoch came to his aid.

“Cam was waving at me to slow down and I was like, ‘What for?’” Mr Enoch said.

“Then he held two fingers up to his eyes and pointed behind me and I saw the cassowary in the scrub. I thought, ‘Holy shit.’”

The pair quickly hopped on their quad bikes but the cassowary remained in close pursuit.

“He just wouldn’t let us go,” Mr Enoch said.

“I got whacked by a branch with green ants on it and had them crawling all over me at the same time. It was crazy.

“He was flying alongside me and he let out this pterodactyl-like noise out of his beak.

“The casque on top of his head was close to 30 centimetres long. He was a really healthy bird.

“I’ve been working in wildlife for years and I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Picture: Sophie Holt

The cassowary soon turned its attention to the remaining Wuthathi custodians travelling along the same track on a six-seater buggy.

“It was like a scene out of Jurassic Park,” Indigenous Protected Area Coordinator Sophie Holt said.

“Jim (Turnour), our general manager, did a very good job of keeping his speed up because the tracks are incredibly overgrown.”

“We kept thinking ‘What if this cassowary catches us?’. We were just praying there weren’t any logs or debris on the track.”

After stalking the buggy for almost a kilometre, the cassowary, affectionately known as ‘CC’ gave up the chase. But footage of CC’s wild run through the rainforest has ensured he’ll remain a social media sensation for years to come.

“It amazed me because I didn’t realise how fast they could run,” Mr Enoch said.

“My auntie and sister when they saw the footage said it took them back to an experience they had in Cairns about 15 years ago.

“My two-year-old cousin was with them at the time and they were trying to keep him still while the cassowary looked them up and down.

“I’ve never been chased by one before.

“I think we were pretty lucky we were in a vehicle with bars on it, to be honest.”

Ms Holt said rangers hoped to find more cassowaries in remote parts of Wuthathi country.

“There definitely would be more cassowaries here but there just haven’t been that many sightings,” she said.

“In terms of documenting the northern populations there’s not too much known about them.

“I think that’s an experience of a lifetime. We have a deep respect for cassowaries. We just didn’t expect it.”

You can watch the Jurassic Park-like video on the Cape York Weekly Facebook page.

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