To the uninitiated, this clip of tourists snapping some closeups of the local birdlife in Australia's Daintree National Park may seem unremarkable. Except this is Australia, and Down Under, everything can kill you…

The birds causing this colossal roadblock are cassowaries, and there's a good reason the other tourists aren't getting too close. They may look like docile, flamboyant ostriches, but cassowaries come equipped with dagger-like claws that can grow up to five inches long, so most locals keep their distance for fear of disembowelment. The second-heaviest birds in the world, these animals gallop at speeds of up to 50 kmph (31 mph), and they can leap high enough to kick an adult human at chest height.

Of course, this fearsome reputation has been largely exaggerated in media reports over the years: when threatened, the flightless birds are much more likely to flee than attack like one of Spielberg's velociraptors. Of the attacks that have been recorded (including a death-by-cassowary reported in 1926), many have involved birds acting defensively to protect either themselves or their chicks.

An even larger number of reported attacks have been linked to cassowaries that have been fed by humans. When the birds learn to associate people with food, they can become aggressive when you refuse to hand over your sandwich.

Luckily for these tourists, the cassowaries' deadly "foot daggers" remained on the ground and nobody was injured. Protip: If you come across a family of cassowaries, admire it from the safety of your vehicle – standing between a male cassowary and its young is not the safest place to be.


Header image: Cuatrok77