Camera Traps – December 2023 accrued 121-cassowaries, 27-dingoes and 218-feral pigs.  Against the cumulative monthly average, cassowary numbers fell by 23%, dingoes also dropped by 33%, whilst feral-pig numbers rose by 40%.  Against December 2022, cassowary numbers fell by 50%, dingo sightings also diminished by 55%, but feral-pig numbers increased by 151%.

Image highlights from December 2023

CYCLONE JASPER

Scars of Cyclone Jasper on Thornton Peak

Tropical Cyclone Jasper dropped exceptionally heavy rainfall, peaking at 2,252-mm near the Daintree River, making Jasper the wettest tropical cyclone to impact Australia on record.  The scars of its onslaught are deeply inscribed across the landscape, but other impacts leave less obvious impressions.

OTHER CASUALTIES …

Crinkle-Cut, the male Cassowary featured across the entirety of this Daintree Rainforest Camera Trap Project, lost his two remaining chicks in the floods.  They were last filmed alive at 6.27-AM on the day the cyclone made landfall and all sightings since have been of Crinkle Cut only.  Crinkle-Cut’s territory was inundated and whilst a long-legged adult weighing around 40-kg can stand up against considerable flow, the little chicks would have been picked up and swept mercilessly into the pitch of the night.

The dingo pups within the same territory seemed to have fared better than the cassowary chicks and feral-pigs were probably as capable as dingoes of evading treacherous flooding.

Taiga & his three chicks, Larry, Curly & Mo were seen together before the cyclone, but no sightings of the chicks have been recorded since.  Two sightings have been made of Taiga since the cyclone, but not with any chicks evident.  Hopefully future sightings will verify their survival.

Regulatory response …

Tropical Cyclone Jasper and its ensuing floods and landslides have inflicted a terrible and unprecedented upheaval across the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (WTWHA), with catastrophic damage to transportation infrastructure and an almost complete loss of tourism, which otherwise provides the sole conservation economy from which the costs of WTWHA management obligation are fulfilled.

The Wet Tropics Management Authority (WTMA) was established in 1990 to ensure that these management obligations across these matters-of-national-environmental-significance are properly met.  At the beginning, private land-holders within the WTWHA were informed that they would be helped to implement their land-management obligations to the maximum extent possible, through the provision of resources and training and the development of management agreements and yet, in the weeks since the upheaval, the response from WTMA has been silent.

Apart from being supportive in its out-reach, WTMA could derive great insight and understanding into this once-in-a-century-event by asking its WTWHA inhabitants of their state-of-environment pursuant to the calamity and what their priorities are for protection, presentation and rehabilitation.

Within a peripheral concern, WTMA committed in 1997 to a Visitor Management policy that sought to achieve a sustainable level of visitor-use of the Daintree-Cape Tribulation area, such that future growth beyond the sustainable level will be directed to appropriate areas south of the Daintree River.  This policy still resides within the Protection through partnership policy framework and almost by default steers official tourism recommendation in that adverse policy direction.

We have just been notified by Local Government that as of Saturday 6 January the Daintree Ferry will be opening up to visitors with accommodation booked between Forest Creek and Thornton Beach, contingent upon showing proof of booking (e.g. an email confirmation from their accommodation provider) to the Ferry staff when boarding northwards.  We are informed that tour buses will not be allowed to access the Ferry yet, as the Daintree National Park remains closed and yet, WH-listed Daintree Rainforest on Cooper Creek is open and operational and caters to some tour companies, but has been seemingly over-looked by the presumption of exclusive public-ownership of WH-estate under the influence of the adverse re-direction policy.

It would be not only helpful for WTMA, our partners-in-protection, to advocate for tourism recovery in accordance with our WH-interests, it is also a matter of statutory necessity.

DAINTREE RAINFOREST FOUNDATION LTD

Daintree Rainforest Foundation Ltd has been registered by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and successfully entered onto the Register of Environmental Organisations. Donations made to the Daintree Rainforest Fund support Daintree Rainforest community custodianship and are eligible for a tax deduction under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997.