Video Shows Dangerous Bird Stalking Pair of Hikers in Australian Wilderness

Several hikers exploring the Atherton Tablelands in the Australian state of Queensland had a close call with one of the world's most dangerous birds. Fortunately, they managed to capture the encounter on camera.

In a 52-second clip released by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) on Twitter early Tuesday morning Eastern Time, a cassowary can be seen stalking a man identified only as "Danny" and a woman along a remote trail, its razor-sharp claws in full view. Frequently, the animal drew within "a meter of the group," DES Senior Wildlife Officer Dinouk Perera said in a press release.

Native to the tropical forests and wetlands of New Guinea, northern Australia, and several neighboring island chains, cassowaries are one of the few species of bird that can injure or even kill people.

Thanks to the presence of the claws, which can reach 10 centimeters in length, they can disembowel enemies with a single kick to the midsection, according to the San Diego Zoo.

In addition, they are massive compared to their hollow-boned brethren. Individuals have been known to weigh as much as 167 pounds and stand well over 5 feet. In 2019, a Florida man died as a result of being gored by a captive cassowary.

QPWS is urging people not to feed cassowaries after a large bird followed bushwalkers for 7 minutes in a national park. Wildlife officers believe the bird's behaviour means it has been fed by people. Be cass-o-wary and let them find their own food.

— Queensland Environment (@QldEnvironment) May 18, 2021

While the hiker recorded is clearly rattled by the proximity of the potentially lethal predator, she remains calm as it continues its pursuit, even shushing Danny when he raises his voice.

"Don't touch it, Danny, just let him go," she says at one point when he strays too close to the bird.

Her patience was eventually rewarded, according to the caption of the tweet. Within seven minutes or so, the bird eventually lost interest and left the hikers alone.

Perera said that the bird's behavior indicates that it has come to associate people with mealtime. Deliberately feeding a cassowary is a crime that carries a maximum penalty of a $5,222 fine.

However, the illegality of the act apparently isn't always an effective deterrent. The DES recently investigated reports that residents of the town of Kuranda have been enticing cassowaries with chopped fruit, Perera said.

"A cassowary that wasn't habituated would never approach bushwalkers, and would have retreated into the forest to avoid such an encounter," he said. "This was an unnerving incident for the bushwalkers and they did the right thing by remaining calm and moving away until the cassowary realized it wasn't going to be fed."

He added that cassowaries have been known to become aggressive if they aren't appeased.

A cassowary opens its beak.
Cassowaries are among the most dangerous birds in the world, thanks to their daggerlike claws. MARK RALSTON/Getty Images