Camera Traps – August 2020

The data collected from Camera Traps over the month of August 2020 suffered only one camera failing and the month’s tally accrued 69-cassowaries, 38-dingoes and 102-feral pigs.  As aggregated percentages, cassowaries were 104% up on the monthly average, dingoes were 218% up and feral-pigs were 75% fewer.  Two shots of dingoes had piglets in their mouths, but they were vastly out-numbered by images of surviving piglets.  August racked up 3 Bennett’s Tree Kangaroos, a new monthly record and one of them was at a completely different camera trap.

The three adult female cassowaries have maintained their competitive presence across the month, as indicated in the data collected from the camera traps and also through direct observation, with Big Bertha pairing with Scratch, having successfully evicted the two-surviving sub-adults from last year’s brood.  Delilah and Prudy (as the new-comer has become known) are competing for Taiga (male cassowary), whilst Crinkle Cut, with his sole remaining chick from this year’s first clutch, has been showing hostilities towards Taiga.

In one surprising turn of August events, a Black Butcherbird swooped in fast and low around the verandah of our living room, as they do, just as Crinkle Cut and Leo (the aforementioned 2-month old youngster) were travelling in the opposite direction.  I believe the trajectory was purely coincidental, but Crinkle Cut hissed with undisguised aggression towards the Black Butcherbird and little Leo took unwavering protection from beneath his dad’s legs.  We have seen Butcherbirds eating from the carcass of juvenile cassowaries before, but this instinctive reaction affirms that they are imprinted into cassowary sensitivity as a predatory threat.

I have come to the firm belief that Kuku Yalanji inhabitants traditionally cultivated Butcherbirds to report unto human partnership, the location of large reptiles, especially Lace Monitors & pythons, for their expeditious removal and subsequent sharing, as the gratuity was strategically hung over the crook of a branch.  The tremendous human advantage of flight and a multitude of eyes and ears across the greater expanse of the landscape, allows messages to be delivered and intelligences to be provided, so that a far more productive, healthy and secure ecosystem would reward human inhabitants with inherent benefits.  So removing humans would not only cause a significant slumping of ecosystem health and productivity, it would also cause an over-population of secondary predators and a consequential over-consumption of mammals and birds.

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