Famous or infamous? Villain or victim? Controversy has surrounded the Dingo in Australia but new research suggests that this iconic predator could be an ecological saviour and help to restore the natural order of the Australian bush.
One of the greatest threats to the Dingo is interbreeding with domestic and wild dogs. While Dingoes in the past have been hunted and killed because of a perceived threat to farmed animals, the Dingo was listed as a threatened species in Victoria in 2008. From ‘vermin’ to a native Australian: it has been a long and hard-won battle for one of the few top order predators left in the Australian environment.
Related to the Indian Wolf, the Dingo has become genetically distinct through isolation after its arrival on the Australian mainland around 5,000 years ago.
Unlike domestic dogs, Dingoes only breed once a year. Social hierarchy within a Dingo pack dictates that only the leaders breed. All members of the pack help to rear the pups.
Instead of barking, Dingoes howl to let neighbouring dingoes know where their territorial boundaries are. In a Dingo chorus each animal howls at a different frequency and pattern. This tells other Dingoes who and how many are in the pack.
Dingo country, a dramatic rocky high country exhibit at Healesville Sanctuary, offers you the chance to observe dingoes up close, and learn about their complex history. A smartphone ringtone of the dingo howl is also available to download or listen to from this page.
- DNA, legend and archaeological evidence now tell us that the Dingo arrived in Australia by boat with South Asian seafarers around 5,000 years ago, not with Aborigines by land bridge 40,000 years ago
- Dingoes are naturally shy with a wild and independent nature, behaving more like cats than domestic dogs
- Dingoes are extremely flexible and are great escape artists
- Not all Dingoes are ginger-yellow. Some are white or black and tan