Cassowary Pushes Man off Cliff: Australia

A cassowary is a flightless bird and is a bit smaller than an ostrich or an emu. Here in Australia we have the Southern Cassowary which is found in far North Queensland, they live in the rain forests, and have a bit of a reputation for being dangerous to people as well as domestic animals.

The head of a Southern Cassowary (Casuarius ca...

The head of a Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Southern Cassowaries grow to 1.8 metres or 5.9 feet tall, females have been known to be slightly larger. They usually weigh around 58.5 kilograms or 129 pounds. They have very sharp claws, the second toe or the inner one has a dagger-like claw that is 125 cm or 5 inches long.

A road sign in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. ...

A road sign in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. It says; "Speeding has Killed Cassowaries" and it shows an illustration of a crashed car with a cassowary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Southern cassowary is actually an endangered species in Australia; studies have shown that 55% of the ones that have died were killed by motor vehicles. When
Cyclone Yasi hit in January 2011 it wiped out 10% of the cassowary population.

Casuarius casuarius English: A Southern Cassow...

A Southern Cassowary (also known as Double-wattled Cassowary, Australian Cassowary or Two-wattled Cassowary)(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When they attack the cassowary uses it’s very powerful legs, and jumps and pushes with full force, claws first hitting the intended target, they have been known to jump as high as 1.5 metres or 4.9 feet.

The Attack
A guy from Western Australia visiting Queensland saw a cassowary and was watching a photographer taking photos of the bird, the next thing he knew he was rolling down the cliff. He has come away from this “adventure” with a torn shirt, and a bruised backside. The tourists doesn’t know why the bird chose him, he was there with his family. After he stopped at the bottom of the hill and landed in water, the cassowary looked over the edge at him, and then ran off into the rainforest.

“Next thing, thump, I copped a boot in the back and I was tumbling down the bank, it was pretty high – about seven foot – I hit this ledge near the bottom and bounced off into the drink.”
Read about the story in The Cairns, there is also a photo of the victim with his torn shirt.

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74 Responses to Cassowary Pushes Man off Cliff: Australia

  1. andy1076 says:

    Dang, that’s one territorial bird geez!

  2. RichardB1001 says:

    I hope they don’t hunt in packs!

  3. Yowza! Maybe the Cassowary heard the statistic that 55% of his species are killed by human drivers and decided to pursue a little revenge.

  4. That’s frightening. Birds that size seem prehistoric to me, they’re kind of creepy. The fact that it’s so aggressive is especially unsettling. The man was lucky he wasn’t on a major cliff, he could’ve been killed!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi A Gripping Life,
      I agree, he was very lucky the cliff wasn’t any higher, and of course landing in water helped him a bit too, the injury’s could of been a lot worse.

  5. Cafe says:

    Omg 6 ft tall?! That’s scary!!! And with that look on its face .. Mm-mm, don’t mess!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Cafe,
      Yes it is not a happy look, makes you wonder what they are thinking can’t be good. 🙂

      • Cafe says:

        Hahaha, yeah it is kinda comical =P
        Btw, do you know if WordPress has changed the reply setting for the comment notifications? It seems to now take you back to the person’s blog rather than being able to type in a comment box. Not that I mind, just curious 🙂

        • magsx2 says:

          Hi Cafe,
          Glad you enjoyed reading about the cassowary. 🙂
          I don’t know I only just got home from being out all day, so I haven’t been on the computer at all, nothing surprises me with WP, there are always changes. 😀

  6. I’m going to add birds to my list of dangerous Aussie wildlife, Mags. Cheers!!! 🙂

  7. Windsmoke. says:

    I don’t think he’ll forget that holiday for a long time, especially when he has the torn shirt as a souvenir :-).

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Windsmoke,
      I totally agree, he may have been smiling in his picture in the paper, but he will never forget, and no doubt he will be looking over his shoulder whenever he is anywhere near a rainforest.

  8. I have never heard about this bird, and this was a very interesting post, Mags. Sorry to hear that traffic kills so many of an endangered speices. The attack story was almost funny.. 😉

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi bentehaarstad,
      Unfortunately we have to have roads, and animals seem to always want to get to the other side, there are a lot of signs warning drivers to be on the look out for these animals, that is about all that can be done really.

  9. aFrankAngle says:

    OZ sure has its share of wonders! Actually, this seems to be never ending because this is another one that I’ve never heard about. In other words, thanks Mags!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Frank,
      Yes we have a wonderful variety of wildlife, not always good though. 😀
      I’m actually glad that I can share some things that you have not heard of before. 🙂

  10. travelrat says:

    Not surprised! I’ve heard tales of people being disembowelled by those claws. And, I don’t think I’d care for a ‘Newcastle Handshake’ from that bony casque!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi travelrat,
      You are spot on, once they knock you down they do not stop, and that is a very deadly claw that they have they just continue ripping with it, if the guy had not been knocked over the cliff, things would of been very different.

  11. jmgoyder says:

    That’s so funny!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi jmgoyder,
      Yes the guy was laughing about it all in the newspaper. 🙂
      But I bet it hurt at the time he went tumbling down the cliff, he must of wondered what on earth happened. 🙂

  12. reb says:

    What a story … and what a lucky guy! Imagine that ..that the bird walked over and looked down the cliff at him! Even though this is a scary story, that must have looked funny..

    One wonders how they choose their victims..

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi reb,
      Yes I had to smile when I read that the bird looked over the edge at him, it was a very funny picture in my mind. 😀
      It is a mystery why he was chosen out of the people that where there, it makes you wonder what goes through some animals minds before they do things.

  13. lolabees says:

    More cool stuff in Australia! Beautiful colors on the birds face. I bet they also do a lot of damage to the cars too. So terrible that so many are killed that way.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi lolabees,
      They are a very pretty bird with the bright colours, oh yes the damage to the cars is very bad because of the size of the bird, and usually it is out on the highway so cars are going at fast speeds as well, their have been many injuries to the people in the cars as well unfortunately. There isn’t a lot that can be done, as you would of guessed by the photo, there are signs warning people about the birds, that is about all that can be done.

  14. zannyro says:

    Well, there goes my idea of getting a Cassowary for my son for his birthday.

  15. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    That’s terribly frightening! Assault and battery by a bird. Who’d have thought?

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi SDS,
      Yes it would be very hard to take this one to court to sue for assault and battery. 😀
      This is a story he will be talking about for a long time I should imagine.

  16. robincoyle says:

    And all this time I thought I wanted to visit your homeland!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi robincoyle,
      You just have to keep your eyes open if you are wondering around in open areas, bushland, rainforest’s….. 😆

  17. Hi Mags, when we were in Australia we saw them in zoos, and heard that they were dangerous. But we actually got to see one in the wild when it wandered into an orchard. We kept a safe distance. They are fascinating creatures. Great post.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Naomi,
      That is great that you were able to see these birds, they really are magnificent with their beautiful colours. They love fruit and will protect their find very viciously, it’s the big claw that is very harmful and it is always at the ready.

  18. The Bird has got that dare and see look…..but is so beautiful

  19. Selma says:

    I’ve heard they can get a bit aggro. They are big birds. I think I’ll keep a wide berth if I ever come across one!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Selma,
      Oh yes definitely a bird to stay as far away from as possible, the guy was very lucky in the sense that if he hadn’t of been pushed over the cliff, that huge claw on the bird could of very easily ripped right through his skin, and they don’t stop, it could of been very nasty indeed.

  20. tempo says:

    I think people underestimate this bird and thats why they get hurt, if you see one you should head the other way or maybe climb a tree…or run it over in your car?

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi tempo,
      They do underestimate what harm these birds can cause, I agree, best just to stay well clear of them.

      Run them over, only if you want a lot of damage to your car. 🙂 Ahhh I detect a bit of a sarcasm, you got me. 🙂

  21. hotlyspiced says:

    The Cassowary is such a beautiful bird. I love the vibrant blue on the face. But they are a lethal weapon. There are two people (I think) who have been killed by cassowaries when they had them at Taronga Zoo. The zoo didn’t have them for a long time because of the deaths but they have recently started displaying them again. Such a shame they are now endangered xx

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi hotlyspiced,
      It doesn’t surprise me to hear of the deaths, their deadly claw is very sharp and very strong. Yes it is a shame that there are not that many left now.

  22. El Guapo says:

    Yes, but can they be trained to do that on command?

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi El Guapo,
      Now there is a good question, who knows, if you survive the training sessions it could well be achieved. 😀

  23. We saw them at the Taronga Zoo last year and found them QUITE intimidating. I was surprised that they were not completely fenced in at the zoo so we didn’t hang around too long to look. We’d heard they could be ornery. Do they fly?

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi EOSR,
      No, they are a flightless bird, like the ostrich and emu, but they do have speed on their side like most flightless birds. It’s great that you saw them at the zoo, they are very pretty in their own way.

  24. niasunset says:

    It is so sad traffic kills them… I haven’t known these birds… once again I learn something new in your blog and it is so interesting. Thank you dear Mags, with my love, nia

  25. I didn’t realize that they were so aggressive. I love their beautiful jewel colours and that crazy armour-plating on their heads.

  26. I watched a series on the wildlife channel about these wonderful creatures. They have such colorful heads. But those claws – reminds me of dinosaurs. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a jab. Yikes.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi writingfeemail,
      The claws do make you think of the dino era, that is for sure, especially the huge claw in the middle just unbelievable.

  27. It’s funny to read about it, but I imagine that thing coming at you would be absolutely terrifying! (Note to self: do not stand near the edge of a cliff if there are cassowaries in the vicinity)) 🙂

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Zen and Genki,
      It certainly would be terrifying and you cannot out run them they are very fast. Now that is a very good note to self. 😀

  28. Fergiemoto says:

    I guess it had enough with too many friends being killed…perhaps revenge. I don’t know if I should laugh or be concerned for the guy.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Fergienoto,
      Who knows why the attack happened, a mystery never to be solved. The guy that got attacked is smiling and laughing about it all, but it would of been scary at the time.

  29. Randel says:

    Never knew of this bird. It is a wow for sure. Sorry they are in decline. I like finding new things, and your site delivers.

  30. Yikes! If I ever go to Australia I will stay as far as possible away from any Cassowary who crosses my path! Have you ever seen one where you live, Mags?

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Barbara,
      No I haven’t seen one where I live, I’m a bit too far south, the cassowary’s are in the same state as me Queensland, but they are in the far north, which is fine by me, where we take the dog for a walk there is a lot of bush, and we see a bit of wildlife around, but no cassowary’s thank goodness. 🙂

  31. Elyse says:

    These guys should have a motto to share with ostriches and emus: Don’t Mess with OZ Birds!

  32. Tony McGurk says:

    Lucky it was only a 7 foot drop. It would’ve made a great Funniest Home Videos entry. No wonder people are wary of the cassowary

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Tony,
      It certainly was a shame nobody had a camera with them at the time. 😀
      I love it “wary of the cassowary”, I’m sure there is a song in there somewhere. 🙂

      • Tony McGurk says:

        Hmmm… A song, lets see

        Oh be wary of the cassowary or they’ll kick you down a cliff
        Be wary of the cassowary or they’ll give you quite a biff
        Oh they may look nice & friendly
        Oh I’m really sure they do
        But be wary of the cassowary or the victim could be you

        Now we just need some music to go with it

  33. dearrosie says:

    Oh my goodness me, that’s a very powerful bird to knock an adult male over. The guy’s lucky he didn’t get seriously injured!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi dearrosie,
      He was very lucky, these birds are dangerous not so much for their size, but the huge middle claw that is just so sharp, they rip their prey to threads. He was lucky there was a cliff, if he had of just fallen to the ground, the bird would of just kept ripping. But in the end everything turned out OK, and at least he can now laugh about it all, and what a story to tell your grandkids. 🙂

  34. Pingback: Emu Walks into Hotel: Western Australia (Video) | Magsx2's Blog

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