The sixth in the Perth Mint’s Endangered and Extinct series of coloured silver coins has just been released and features a bird for only the second time. First appearing back in 2011 with the Tasmanian Tiger, this series has seen the launch of a single coin annually ever since. Commissioned by Australian coin dealer Downies, each coin has been limited to a mintage of 5,000 pieces, and this years Southern Cassowary is no exception. Struck by the Perth Mint, the coin specification will be very familiar to collectors of the Western Australian mints coins.
Packaging is the same very good quality gloss-finished wooden box that the whole series has used, which holds the Certificate of Authenticity and sits within a coloured shipper. The coin itself carries a coloured depiction of a Southern Cassowary along with its chick, against a backdrop of fern leaves. It’s a bright, vibrant image with a fine composition. The only inscription on this face is the bird name and isn’t intrusive, indeed it’s our favourite since the 2012 Tasmanian Wedge-Tailed Eagle coin. Available now for $97 from Downies, the Perth Mint, or from dealers worldwide.
The Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is a large flightless black bird. It’s a ratite and therefore related to the emu, ostrich, and the genus Rhea. The Southern Cassowary is distributed in tropical rainforests of Indonesia, New Guinea and northeastern Australia. It forages on the forest floor for fallen fruit and is capable of safely digesting some fruits toxic to other animals. They also eat fungi, and some insects and small vertebrates. The Southern Cassowary is a solitary bird, that pairs only in breeding season, which takes place in late winter or spring.They make a booming call during mating season and hissing and rumblings otherwise. Chicks will make frequent high-pitches whistles to call the male.The blade-like claws are capable of killing humans and dogs if the bird is provoked.
Due to ongoing habitat loss, limited range, and overhunting in some areas, the southern cassowary is evaluated as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Australian population is listed as Endangered under Federal and Queensland State legislation. Some threats are through habitat loss (logging), feral animals eating their eggs, hunting, and roadkill. Road building, feral animals and hunting are the worst of these threats. It has an occurrence range of 396,000 km², and between 10,000 and 20,000 birds were estimated in a 2002 study, with between 1,500 and 2,500 in Australia. There are occurrences of southern cassowaries being bred outside of Australia in captivity, like at White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida, United States. (Wikipedia)