Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Extinct
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
State Government
    Documents and Websites
TAS:Dromaius novaehollandiae diemenensis (Emu (Tasmanian)): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014uo) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
TAS: Listed as Extinct (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): September 2012 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
NGO: Listed as Extinct (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Dromaius novaehollandiae diemenensis [64437]
Family Dromaiidae:Struthioniformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author  
Infraspecies author Le Souef, 1907
Distribution map Species Distribution Map not available for this taxon.
Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Dromaius novaehollandiae diemenensis

Common name: Emu (Tasmanian)

The Emu (Tasmanian) is conventionally accepted (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Green 1995), though it was not listed as a subspecies by Marchant and Higgins (1990).

There are few detailed descriptions of the Emu (Tasmanian). It presumably appeared similar in shape to the Emu (mainland) (Dromaius novaehollandiae novaehollandiae) from mainland Australia, but was smaller and darker (Dove 1924; Green 1989; Le Souëf 1904). Its social structure is undescribed except for a reference to a family group (Le Souëf 1904).

The Emu (Tasmanian) was endemic to Tasmania (Marchant & Higgins 1990). The subspecies survived in the wild until about 1865, and a captive bird lived until 1873 (Green 1989; Le Souëf 1904).

The Emu (Tasmanian) was often kept in captivity, especially birds taken from the wild as young birds, or those raised from chicks that hatched from eggs collected in the wild (Dickison 1926; Dove 1924; Green 1989; Le Souëf 1904; Legge 1907).

There have been no comprehensive surveys for the Emu (Tasmanian). There have, however, been many ornithological surveys in Tasmania since the subspecies became extinct. Bird Australia atlas surveys occurred in Tasmania in 1977–1981 (Blakers et al. 1984), and 1998–2002 (Barrett et al. 2003).

The former abundance of the Emu (Tasmanian) is unclear, having been described both as 'plentiful' (Le Souëf 1904) and 'frequently met with' (Dove 1926), but also as 'never plentiful' (Dove 1924). No population estimate was ever made.

The Emu (Tasmanian) had become locally extinct in some areas by the 1830s (Dove 1924), and its numbers were severely depleted by the 1840s (Le Souëf 1904) and most were gone by 1850 (Dove 1924). The last specimens were collected in 1845 (Dickison 1926; Dove 1924), but the species is believed to have survived in the wild until about 1865 (Green 1989) and in captivity until at least 1873, and possibly until about 1884, but this latter bird may have been an Emu (mainland) (Le Souëf 1904).

There is no information regarding the generation length of the Emu (Tasmanian). The generation time of the extant Emu (mainland) is estimated at 4 years (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

There is little published about the habitats used by the Emu (Tasmanian). It is thought to have occurred in dry forest and grasslands and similar 'park-like' habitats (Dove 1924; Green 1989), and possibly also in upland plains and marshes (Legge 1907). There is no information about different habitats used for different activities.

The age of sexual maturity, life expectancy and natural mortality of the Emu (Tasmanian) are unknown. The Emu (mainland) first breeds when 20 months old, and the oldest wild bird, marked as an adult, survived for 6 years; the mainland subspecies is 'probably not really long-lived' (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

Few details have been published about the breeding of the Emu (Tasmanian). Its nest were placed on the ground, and sometimes eight or nine eggs were laid in it, and broods of six young were recorded (Le Souëf 1904). Nests on the ground would have made incubating birds vulnerable to predation. It is not documented whether the chicks were cared for by the males, as occurs with the Emu (mainland) (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

There is nothing published about the food of the Emu (Tasmanian). The Emu (mainland) is omnivorous, eating seeds, fruits, flowers, leaves and other plant material, and insects and their larvae (Marchant & Higgins 1990). The Emu (mainland) forages by plucking items from plants and by picking food items from the ground (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

There is no information about daily or seasonal movements by the Emu (Tasmanian). The Emu (mainland) is dispersive, with movements prompted by declines in the availability of food or water, but birds are resident where food and water are regularly available (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

As the only ratite present on mainland Tasmania, the Emu (Tasmanian) would have been distinctive, and conspicious in open habitat (Long 1981).

The extinction of the Emu (Tasmanian) is considered to have resulted from hunting pressure by settlers in the 1800s (Dove 1926; Le Souëf 1904).

Apart from the examination of various remains and eggs collected in Tasmania (Le Souëf 1903a; Legge 1907), there have been no major studies of the species.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Dromaius novaehollandiae diemenensisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006iq) [Internet].

Barrett, G., A. Silcocks, S. Barry, R. Cunningham & R. Poulter (2003). The New Atlas of Australian Birds. Melbourne, Victoria: Birds Australia.

Blakers, M., S.J.J.F. Davies & P.N. Reilly (1984). The Atlas of Australian Birds. Melbourne, Victoria: Melbourne University Press.

Dickison, D. (1926). When did the Tasmanian Emu become extinct?. Emu. 25:213.

Dove, H.S. (1924). Notes on the Tasmanian Emu. Emu. 23:221-222.

Dove, H.S. (1926). How Tasmania lost the Emu. Emu. 25:213.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from:

Green, R.H. (1989). Birds of Tasmania. Launceston, Tasmania: Potoroo Publishing.

Green, R.H. (1995). The Fauna of Tasmania: Birds. Launceston, Tasmania: Potoroo Publishing.

Le Souëf, D. (1903a). A unique zoological specimen. Emu. 3:114-115.

Le Souëf, D. (1904). Extinct Tasmanian Emu. Emu. 3:229-231.

Legge, W.V. (1907). The emus of Tasmania and King Island. Emu. 6:116-119.

Long, J.L. (1981). Introduced Birds of the World. Sydney, NSW: Reed Publishing.

Marchant, S. & P.J.Higgins, eds. (1990). The Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 1 Part a - Rattites to Petrels. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Dromaius novaehollandiae diemenensis in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Fri, 19 Sep 2014 04:37:22 +1000.