The Dingo is a species deeply ingrained in Australian and indigenous culture. It is widely known and can be found in cave and rock paintings all over the continent as well as in stories and fables passed down through generations.
Although well-known a lot of people consider the Dingo an Australian species but the reality is dingo's were introduced somewhere between 5000 and 12000 years ago.
Dingo with a thick coat
What is the Dingo
Dingo's are considered to be a domesticated dog, not warranting their own subspecies or class like the wolf, however dingo's are not just "any dog" and are generally characterised by their slender athletic shape, colour and wedge-shaped head. It can often be hard to identify a wild dingo to a feral dog which are considered pests.
Dingo and it's pups
The origins of the dingo have been traced back to south-east Asia and the common theory is that they were brought here (whether intentionally or not) by seafaring people from that area. Nobody knows exactly when but the timeline is somewhere between 4,000 and 12,000 years ago depending on where you look.
In this time the dingo has made its way into popular culture, dreamtime stories, and our ecosystem.
The dingo is considered our largest terrestrial predator and is capable of hunting anything up to the size of a large red kangaroo. They hunt and live in packs with a discernible leader and are generally timid towards people.
The dingo is now considered to be a "native animal" and is recognised as such under Australian law. This doesn't unfortunately stop them being hunted and killed fairly often.
They have been known to attack and kill livestock and many farmers will bait using 1080 which you can read about in my last post here.
Are they good or bad for the environment?
There is much debate over the dingo's role in our ecosystems. I personally subscribe to the belief that they have been here long enough to have integrated with our environment and are now an important part of the food chain.
They do compete with certain natives like the quoll for food but their biggest competitors are feral cats and foxes and these are both far more destructive.
They also help to keep down the numbers of other wild animals like goats, pigs, rabbits and pretty much anything else they can catch. Given most larger animals like the goats have no predators otherwise this can help to prevent their numbers exploding even more.
They are often considered a pest by some and farmers and shooters particularly don't care for them. The government does not specifically target them with baiting but they often become the victims since they eat the same things as the intended animals.
Unfortunately baiting and hunting of these animals only leads to higher numbers of other pests, which then require poisoning or hunting as well. This leads to quite a disastrous affect on our natives.
It seems quite silly to me for us to try and "control nature" since almost every time we do something we manage to make things worse. The environment is adaptable as has been shown with the dingo and the more we meddle the harder it is for it to balance itself out.
In popular culture and dreamtime stories.
The dingo features heavily in dreamtime stories and while can be found in cave paintings is not as common as the thylacine or Tasmanian tiger.
It is often believed the dingo played a large role in the extinction of the thylacine and has essentially taken it's place however hunting and habitat destruction also played a large role.
In aboriginal culture the dog or dingo is important as both companion and protector and is even sometimes considered the same level as family. Aboriginal Australians are very spiritual and some even believe the dingo's are the spirits of their ancestors.
Dingo's have also featured in movies and became most well-known in the case of Azaria Chamberlain, a young girl who was taken from her tent in the night by a dingo. Before then most people did not believe dingo's to be capable of, or willing, to attack humans. Since then however a number of attacks on humans have been recorded and children are especially at risk. Of course the risk is incredibly small and the number of people attacked is miniscule. I have come across many dingo's in our travels so far and 90% of them are incredibly timid and will run as soon as possible.
A few times camping out in the middle of the outback you could hear them howling in their packs, likely hunting. At no point was I scared though and they pose little threat to an adult.
Dingo's can be seen in many wildlife parks and are common to see in the outback, on roadsides or secluded campgrounds. They are actually super cute and good looking dogs and many people have a dingo x as a pet. They do not make great pets though and retain almost all of their wild behaviour even in captivity. Only specially licenced people can keep them and I would not recommend them near other small animals or children, or dogs.
Some of the crossbreeds are quite good but you always still need to be wary that they have some dingo in the mix.
Our dog sassy is friends with a crossbreed at the park that has a little bit of dingo in her and even her owners say she is a little unpredictable, sweet great dog and fine with their kelpie but she is still always leashed and they keep very aware of their surroundings.
These images are not mine and were found on the internet as free-to-use, I strive to use my own photos of the animals we come across but I haven't had many chances to photograph dingo's.