Rainforest Rescue will continue to operate Garner’s Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation Facility thanks to funding from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said up to $50,000 would be made available as an interim solution and allow the community-run facility to continue to receive injured or orphaned cassowary chicks.
Ms Palaszczuk said Rainforest Rescue had agreed to continue managing the facility, including accepting new chicks, while plans for new management arrangements are developed.
“Estimates of cassowary populations range from just over 4,000 to as few as 1,000 in the far north,” Ms Palaszczuk.
“Rainforest Rescue has done a terrific job helping to protect this very important species since June 2014 without government assistance but we understand they need to continue.
“This is about giving the organisation a helping hand while a long-term solution is found.”
Treasurer Curtis Pitt thanked Environment Minister Steven Miles for swift action in finding the interim funding.
“I look forward to working with Steven on a long-term solution to protect this spectacular endangered species,” Mr Pitt said.
“The Palaszczuk Government’s $50,000 commitment new money and something that governments haven’t done before.
“The truth is that we are not ‘reinstating’ funding, because the Garner’s Beach Rehabilitation Centre was never funded by the LNP government.
“In fact the LNP refused to even acknowledge the endangered status of this magnificent bird while they were in government.
“I acknowledge the work of volunteers here over the years, the value of their work in terms of animal welfare, conservation and preserving our region’s biodiversity is simply immeasurable.”
Dr Miles said the government wanted to keep doors open for a long-term solution for ongoing operation of the facility.
“The government will launch an Expressions of Interest process to seek potential partners who can offer rehabilitation services for cassowaries, sponsorship or in-kind support,” Dr Miles said.
“It’s an opportunity for a non-profit or corporate organisation to be part of a critical service that will serve the Far North community.
“Cassowaries are an extremely important species in Far North Queensland for world heritage rainforests and tourism, and it is important we work with the community to protect them.
“I am grateful to Rainforest Rescue for agreeing in recent weeks to continue caring for the three chicks currently housed at the facility until they could be released to the wild.
“What this interim funding means is Rainforest Rescue can continue to accept new chicks if necessary for a further three months until a new arrangement is developed.
“Under the previous arrangement with Rainforest Rescue, adult cassowaries were not accepted and that will continue until we can sort out a longer-term solution.”
Local vets will continue to support first response treatment to sick, injured and orphaned cassowaries in the area.
Decisions about which animals go into care are made in consultation with vets and others.
Injured cassowaries can be reported to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection on 1300 130 372.