Experts fly in to defend Fraser Island dingoes
Conservation experts from interstate will join forces with local residents and Queensland Indigenous Elders today to defend Fraser Island dingoes from mismanagement by the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM).
They will table a series of recommendations and demands to the Queensland government to save the Fraser Island dingoes, which they argue are a crucial conservation asset of national and international significance.
Dr Ian Gunn* is President of the National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program (NDPRP), Veterinary Surgeon and is an expert in assisted reproduction and breeding. He was previously research fellow at Monash University and Director of the Animal Gene Storage Resource Centre of Australia, (wwww.Asutralianfrozenzoo.com) Dr Gunn will discuss the low number of dingoes now remaining on Fraser Island, explaining their lack of genetic viability. In particular, he will highlight culling and starvation, resulting from current DERM ‘dingo management’ practices, as among the most significant threats to the future viability of the dingoes on Fraser Island.
Mrs Alexia Wellbelove, Program Officer, Humane Society International (HSI)**, Australia, will discuss her concerns that DERM dingo management practices on Fraser Island fail to recognise the significant conservation value of the population of dingoes on the island as perhaps the purest strain of dingo on the eastern Australian seaboard. She will challenge the DERM to gain a better understanding of dingo behaviour rather than attempting to control the natural behaviour of dingoes, which results in mistaken labelling of individual dingoes as ‘dangerous’. She will further argue that the management of Fraser Island must return to a more modern wildlife-focused approach, in recognition of the vital ecological role dingoes’ play. Given the poor record of the Queensland authorities on Fraser Island, HSI is looking at legal options under Federal legislation in relation to the Commonwealth’s World Heritage and National Heritage obligations
Dr Eve Fesl*** (Order of Australia), prominent Indigenous elder of the Queensland Gubbi Gubbi people, will point to the cultural significance of the dingo for Indigenous Australians, as they form a vital part of Aboriginal heritage. Dr Fesl will announce that, if the DERM does not develop a satisfactory management plan to secure the future of the Fraser Island dingoes, Indigenous Queenslanders may resort to lobbying UNESCO to have the Fraser Island World Heritage Listing revoked.
Ms Jennifer Parkhurst, a professional wildlife photographer with an intimate knowledge of the Fraser Island dingo population, has been in a unique position to document the unfolding crisis of the Island’s dingo population and the negative impact of DERM dingo ‘management practices’. Ms Parkhurst will describe her first hand experience of the dingo’s decline on Fraser Island and her experience of intimidation by the DERM as a result of her exposure of the situation.
Mr Tim Rivers, a tourism operator in the Fraser Island region for over 20 years will describe how the dingo has been a major tourist draw card to Fraser Island. With the population now estimated at only 140 individuals, he will describe the challenges facing the tourist industry in locating the dingoes. DERM ‘management practices’ will be blamed for this decline.
Mr Glen Elmes MP Shadow Minister for Sustainability and Mr Ted Sorensen MP will be attending and will be available for comments after the meeting.