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Cassowary (Casuarius spp.) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat



  • Species distributions generally do not overlap (Pratt and Beehler 2015)
  • Cassowaries occur at low population densities (Westcott 1999)

Southern Cassowary (Pratt and Beehler 2015; Birdlife International 2016b; Folch et al. 2017a)

  • New Guinea and northeastern Australia
    • Lowlands of west and southern New Guinea
    • 3 subpopulations in Queensland, Australia
      • Two in Cape York (north of Coen), one in Wet Tropics (Townsville, north to Cooktown)
  • Found on islands near mainland New Guinea
    • Aru and Dolak Islands
    • Seram Island (west of New Guinea)
      • Probably introduced
  • Range overlaps with Northern Cassowary in only a few places (Pratt and Beehler 2015)

Northern Cassowary (Pratt and Beehler 2015; Folch et al. 2017c)

  • Western and northern New Guinea
  • Found on islands near mainland New Guinea
    • Yapen Island (Bay Islands)
    • Salawarti
    • Cassowary on Batanta presumed to be the North Cassowary

Dwarf Cassowary (Folch et al. 2017b)

  • New Guinea
    • C. b. bennetti
      • Upland New Guinea
      • Yapen Island (Bay Islands)
      • New Britain Island
        • Probably introduced
    • C. b. westermanni
      • Bird’s Head (Vogelkop)



  • Generally associated with dense, tropical rainforest (Pratt and Beehler 2015)
    • Prefer old growth forest
  • Some populations may associate with disturbed habitats that provide abundant fruit (Biggs 2013)

Southern Cassowary (Pratt and Beehler 2015; Folch et al. 2017a)

  • Vegetation and habitats: southern lowland forests and savannahs
    • New Guinea: rainforest, gallery forest, swamp-forest, and savanna woodland forest; forest edges and riverbanks; mangroves and fruit plantations
    • Australia: tropical rainforest, eucalyptus woodland, and palm scrub
  • Elevation range
    • New Guinea: often to 500 m (1,640 ft) (lowlands); rarely higher, but up to 1,100 m (3,609 ft) (Folch et al. 2017a)
    • Seram: reported up to 1,200 m (3937 ft)
    • Australia: any altitude

Northern Cassowary (Birdlife International 2016c; Folch et al. 2017c)

  • Vegetation and habitats: northern lowland rainforest, swamp-forest, river flood plains
  • Elevation range
    • Mostly in lowlands, but up to 700 m (2,300 ft)

Dwarf Cassowary (Davies 2002; Birdlife International 2016c; Folch et al. 2017b)

  • Vegetation and habitats: montane forests and lowlands
    • Forest and secondary growth in hills and mountains
    • Lowland forests of New Guinea, where other cassowary species are absent
  • Elevation range
    • To 3,300 m (10,826 ft), occasionally to 3,600 m (11,811 ft)
    • Avoids lowlands (Pratt and Beehler 2015)

Cassowary Distribution

Cassowary distribution map

Cassowaries are found in New Guinea and northeastern Australia.

Click below for each species' detailed distribution (from IUCN):

Southern Cassowary
Northern Cassowary
Dwarf Cassowary

Adapted from, according to each species' IUCN fact sheet.

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