Despite being an Australian icon, the dingo unfortunately gets a bad rap. For decades they have been portrayed as an enemy of farmers, and governments have reacted with ever-increasing poison baiting and other control programs.
Much to HSI’s dismay the Victorian Government recently introduced a bounty on ‘wild dog’/dingo scalps, despite the dingo being listed as a threatened species in the state and having its own conservation strategy.
Not only is the dingo’s declining presence in many areas concerning in itself, but the environmental consequences of their absence can be severely detrimental to our ecosystems.
Here are some reasons why we love the Australian dingo. Please share!
How and when dingoes arrived in Australia remains a subject of much debate, with the latest research suggesting that dingoes arrived on the continent between 5,000 and 10,800 years ago, either accompanying Asian seafarers or crossing the land bridge joining Australian and Papua New Guinea before it flooded several thousand years ago.
Their geographical isolation over thousands of years has seen dingoes evolve separately to other canids around the world, becoming uniquely suited to the Australian environment. However the arrival of domestic dogs with Europeans continues to challenge their status (and public perception).
As Australia’s top order mammalian predator, the dingo plays an essential role in maintaining the environment. Scientific studies have demonstrated that dingo presence has a positive effect on the ecosystems in which they live, regulating ecological processes.
They help to control both introduced red foxes and feral cats, therefore aiding the survival of hundreds of native species, including many that are threatened with extinction. By suppressing foxes and cats, dingoes aid the recovery of endangered Australian wildlife including bilbies, quolls, bandicoots, wallabies, native mice and birds.
Dingoes hold a significant place in the spiritual and cultural practices of some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, being featured in stories and ceremonies and depicted on rock carvings and cave paintings.
Dingo pups are said to have served as pets within Aboriginal society and may have also been used in hunting. In some communities people would sleep against a dingo on a cold night, two dingoes on a colder night, with those that were freezing referred to as ‘three dog nights’.
The dingo’s relationship with Indigenous Australians may represent humankind’s first attempts at animal domestication, prior to the widespread use of plants and animals associated with the adoption of agriculture.
Dingoes usually live in small family groups known as packs. A pack has its own territory and usually consists of an alpha male and female, and all members of the group also help in raising the pups.
Dingoes are highly intelligent animals, using teamwork and stamina to hunt effectively as a pack. When packs are fractured, such as though deaths caused by government control programs, their ability to hunt traditional prey is reduced, increasing issues of stock predation.
No words needed.
The dingo needs your help. Email Victorian Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford and Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio and urge them to revoke the wild dog bounty. Use our form below.