08 June 2008

Dingo - Canis familiaris dingo

The dingo is one of the so-called primitive dogs that only breed once a year, whereas domestic dogs breed twice a year. It was introduced to Australia several thousand years ago, there being very good fossil evidence dating to 3000 years, but other fossils would indicate a much longer occupation. Very much favoured by aborigines as a hunting dog for kangaroos, making their capture a much easier process. It is likely that the dingo drove the mainland Australian marsupial dog the Thylacine and the Tasmanian Devil to extinction, as both disappeared from mainland Australia during this period.

Introduced animals usually after causing an initial upset to local ecosystems, can develop a niche for themselves and become part of the ecosystem. This is however dependant on the animal and its requirements, either taking a relatively short time or perhaps never and totally destroying the ecosystem and eventually itself. The dingo it can be said, has adapted reasonably well and except for sheep and other medium sized domestic stock would probably fit in today. It may even be an advantage having them around as it is known that they hunt the introduced cat and fox, and by them reducing the predatory pressure on the highly endangered small animals, many could possibly make a come back.

Around the Esperance region the dingo is definitely outlawed and vigorously hunted down by full-time government paid doggers. So the few that do make it as far south as Esperance and start to worry sheep are soon shoot or baited. I have seen the footprints of dingos in mallee country to the north and northeast of Esperance and have seen animals on and around the Nullarbor, so they are definitely around and could recolonise if permitted, but as long as sheep farming continues in this region, I cannot see this happening.

For photographs and further information go here: http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/cps/rde/dpi/hs.xsl/4790_8278_ENA_HTML.htm