The Cassowary is a very shy bird yet dangerous. It became notorious for being responsible for the deaths of several persons in the 20th century - earning it the name "the world's most dangerous bird." These birds native to Australia are no friend to people when contacted in the wild.
They are fast flightless birds and adept swimmers capable of swimming in seas and wide rivers. They can grow to be 2m tall while weighing roughly 60kg. Unlike other birds, they lack tail feathers and are capable of kicking forward with their dagger-like claws.
Cassowaries are fruit lovers but do eat small vertebrates, grass seeds, plant shoots, and invertebrates.
Photo: dagger-like claws of the cassowary
The formidable weapon of the cassowary lies in its lower extremities - its three clawed toes. When provoked it is known to charge at the threat; jumping and kicking downwards, while piercing its dagger-like claws into the victim.
It is also capable of inflicting deep wounds with its beak. In 1926, a young boy Philip McLean was killed by a cassowary while trying to hunt it. The bird turned and attacked him, and in a bid to escape he fell and was delivered a fatal blow on his jugular by the bird's claws.
Also, in 2019 a US citizen died at the hospital due to severe injuries from the bird attack. Cassowaries are known to attack and kill a dog or cat, if present. The reason for attacking dogs stems from the fact that dog species in the wild, do hunt the birds, and as such, they will attack any present by instinct.
They will also attack humans or other animal species without being provoked. So, if in a situation you encounter the bird you should take the following precautions.
1. Try not to feed the bird, this gesture can be fatal.
2. Don't take your dog(s) to an area where there are cassowaries.
3. When you see an adult cassowary guarding eggs or chicks slowly back away from it. If its attitude towards you becomes aggressive don't run, look for a shrub or safe place to hide; because it can easily outrun you.