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New South Wales: Quoll Headquarters - 164 hectares - Steve Haslam

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Victoria: Witchwood - 9.1 hectares - Jill Redwood

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Queensland: The Roost - 39.75 hectares - Lynn Childs

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Tasmania: Lyn and Geoff's Refuge - 10 hectares - Lyn and Geoff Murray

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Western Australia: Tippaburra Valley - 2470 hectares - Buddy Kent

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New South Wales: Falls Forest Retreat - 80 hectares - Mary White

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Victoria: Wingura - 2.5 hectares - Suzanne and John Brandenberger

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Queensland: Cooper Creek Wilderness - 66.74 hectares - Prue Hewett

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Dingo PDF Print E-mail

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At a glance

  • Dingoes howl for long distance communication such as attracting pack members and repelling rivals
  • There is only one dingo species but subpopulations are associated with tropical, desert and alpine climates
  • Cattle dogs were originally bred by crossing domestic breeds, such as Dalmatians, with dingoes to breed desired traits

 

Dingoes (Canis dingo) likely evolved from small Asian wolves prior to being introduced to Australia by Asian seafarers between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago. They are apex predators and perhaps the most ecologically significant mammal on the continent, however populations have declined significantly since European settlement. The species was once common throughout all mainland states, in a diverse range of landscapes from alpine regions to tropical wetlands. However as development spread, habitats were lost.

 

Dingoes have a lifespan of up to 10 years in the wild, forming stable packs that typically remain in their birth territory, rarely interacting with others. Female dingoes typically become sexually mature at two years, with litters of an average of five pups whelped during the winter months, usually in an underground den. Alpha males and females form breeding pairs and often mate for life, and usually kill pups born to lower ranking females.

 

Generally dingoes hunt macropods, possums, and feral animals including foxes and rabbits, changing group size and hunting strategy accordingly. They may also hunt livestock, however intact dingo packs with minimal human interference exhibit enforced behavioural boundaries that limit such predation. When packs are broken up the loss of social cohesion can result in hybridisation and more opportunistic feeding patterns.

 

Major conservation issues eventuate from contradictory pieces of legislation that both protect dingoes and call for their eradication. When apex predator numbers fall, declines of native prey can result from the proliferation of introduced mesopredators such as foxes and feral cats. Dingo eradication has doubtlessly contributed to the demise of many small to medium native animals while studies show that many species, such as the dusky hopping mouse, malleefowl, and yellow-footed rock-wallaby, are positively associated with dingo presence.

 

Whilst hybridisation with domestic dogs is a concern due to the consequent loss of 'pure' dingoes, these hybrids essentially perform the same ecological function as long as stable packs are maintained. Conservation efforts should therefore focus on understanding and managing the role of modern dingoes in different regions and habitats in Australia.

 

HSI is calling for the development of a National Conservation Plan for dingoes to help protect their important ecosystem function, working with the Federal Environment Minister and Threatened Species Commissioner. With control of feral cats a key government priority, conserving the dingo can be a long term sustainable solution to help protect threatened species.

 

We also recently submitted a Key Threatening Process nomination on "The cascading effects of losing a top order predator, the dingo, from the ecosystem" to support the dingo's important role under national environment law.

 

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