Creatures of the Daintree | Cairns Tours

Creatures of the Daintree

By James Dixon | 1st March 2015

The ancient land of the World Heritage protected Daintree Rainforest features a diverse ecosystem that encompasses some of the oldest preserved plant and animal life in the world. Home to more than 3,000 plant species – 400 of which are either rare or threatened – this ancient forest is situated in Tropical North Queensland and attracts more than 400,000 local and international visitors each year.


Named after the 19th century Australian geologist and photographer, Richard Daintree, the rainforest is estimated to be more than 135 million years old, making it the oldest tropical lowland rainforest on earth. Totalling over 1,200 square kilometres in size, the Daintree is home to a permanent and impressive array of birds, animals, insects, and a plethora of other unique creatures not seen anywhere else in the world.

The Daintree National Park sits alongside the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef – the only place on earth where two world heritage sites meet. Under the umbrella of Bull Kauri trees (the largest tropical trees in the world) are thousands of rare and endangered species that make up the fascinating fabric of the Daintree. Rare creatures including the Ulysses Butterfly, the Bennets Tree Kangaroo, and the White-lipped tree frog live beside more than 12,000 species of insects, the endangered giant Cassowary, as well as 34% of all the mammals and 28% of all the frogs that live in Australia. Internationally recognised as a premier birdwatching location with more than 430 species of birds recorded in the coastal lowlands, wetlands, mangroves, riverina and farmland of the Daintree, winter is the ideal time to quietly observe Woompoo fruit doves, Riflebirds, Monarchs, and Flycatchers. During the wet season (summer), thousands of butterflies are witnessed in the Daintree.

Frilled Lizards, Northern Leaf-tailed Geckos, Eastern Water Dragons, and Boyd’s Forest Dragons are just a few of the reptiles living in the Daintree. A variety of snakes – many venomous – join the Estuarine Crocodile in reptiles that might be spotted from the public walkways or from boats cruising the Daintree River. With healthy populations of possums, quolls, bandicoots, platypi, echidnas, wallabies, bats, and various mammals and monotremes, the Daintree is a fascinating place to visit.

Threats to the Daintree Rainforest

Climate change and global warming are a significant threat to the Daintree, as is residential development in Tropical North Queensland, which has resulted in the introduction of weeds. Feral animals are also an issue; causing damage and change to the natural habitat and also helping the spread of foreign seed and weeds.