Dingo considered for Heritage Listing – but Commonwealth may duck responsibility
Australia’s iconic native dog, the dingo, is being considered for listing on the National Heritage list, but proposed changes to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act may see this bid fail.
Listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in Switzerland as a vulnerable species, the dingo is at serious risk of extinction in the wild because of hybridisation with domestic dogs.
“Dingos have existed in Australia for more than 4000 years. As a keystone predator, the dingo is vitally important in regulating the species richness and abundance of animals and plants in lower trophic levels. Loss of the dingo from our wild ecosystems would lead to a shift in the predator – prey balance, seriously altering the plant and animal communities in these areas” said Michael Kennedy, HSI Director.
Along with its ecological significance, the dingo has become ingrained in the fabric of Australian society for historical and cultural reasons.
“Dingos feature in Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, passed down through generations and forming a vital part of Aboriginal heritage” said Mr Kennedy. “In living relationships with Aboriginal people, they are an integral part of communities, often used for companionship and hunting.”
Dingos have also featured in contemporary Australian history and culture, and have formed part of our national character. From as early as 1789, dingos appeared in written accounts of the Australian landscape.
HSI has just nominated the seven most important places protecting the most outstanding examples of intact dingo populations in Australia. These are the populations residing in the Arafura Swamp, Bradshaw Training Area and Kapalga in the Northern Territory, Fraser Island in Queensland, the Kimberly Islands in Western Australia, Kosciusko in New South Wales, and the Simpson Desert in central Australia.
“HSI hopes that our landmark nomination of this natural, cultural and indigenous icon will help develop the concept of ‘heritage species’ listings under Commonwealth legislation” said Mr Kennedy, “but if the proposed amendments to the EPBC are passed in Canberra this week, the Government is likely to choose to avoid assessing these dingo populations for listing. We ask Senator Campbell to commit to assessing these critical populations for protection under the EPBC’s powerful heritage provisions.”