The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Fears for dingoes as Australia's wild dog faces extinction
18-month-old dingo pups female 'Marle' (L) and male 'Digger' (R) are shown at the Alice Springs Desert Park in Australia's Northern Territory state. The pups being reared at the park, are pure bred examples of the Australian animal which has interbred widely with domestic dogs, reducing the genetically pure number of the species. AFP PHOTO / Greg WOOD.

By: Madeleine Coorey

ALICE SPRINGS (AFP).- Marle and Digger may be small and cute puppies, but make no mistake, warns their handler Matt Williams: these 18-week-old dingoes are wild animals that would never make suitable pets.

The brother and sister pair who live at the Alice Springs Desert Park in central Australia are genetically pure dingoes, meaning they are two of the increasingly rare specimens of the aggressive sub-species of the Grey Wolf.

"They are very, very different to a domestic dog," Williams says as he attempts to keep the agile animals under control.

"That's the message that we really have to get across because they are often so closely associated with domestic dogs."

While many are tempted to pat animals that appear canine, instinctively scratching their heads or ears without expecting an adverse reaction, things work differently with dingoes, which are found mainly in Australia.

"Even though they might look like a dog and have four legs and wag their tail, they are a wild animal and you have to respect and treat them as such," says Amanda McDowell, president of the Australian Dingo Conservation Association.

Yet despite its ferocity the dingo -- shown by fossil evidence to have been in Australia for at least 3,500 years -- may be in a fight for its own survival, with some fearing that interbreeding with wild domestic canines could see it become extinct.

McDowell believes that the animal's demise cannot be stopped, only delayed.

"It is truly on the brink of extinction. A lot of people have the perception that there are plenty of dingoes still out there," she told AFP.

"But in actual fact, they are all just cross-bred dogs, they are not pure dingoes."

She says the animal's plight is "exactly like the thylacine" -- the mysterious striped canine beast known as the Tasmanian tiger, the last example of which is believed to have died in Hobart Zoo in 1936.

"The broader community still believe there's plenty out there and there's not," she said.

Predatory nature
Short of genetic testing across a large number of animals, it is hard to pinpoint exactly how many dingoes remain in the wild.

Conservation biologist Mike Letnic from the University of New South Wales says the number is debatable, but there is clear evidence that much interbreeding had occurred near the major cities since domestic dogs arrived with the first Europeans in 1788.

"On the east coast there is evidence of a lot of hybridisation with dogs, and in those areas dingoes are endangered," he said.

Letnic added that dingoes are "basically extinct" from areas where sheep are raised and wheat is grown. "And whatever dingoes are there are heavily persecuted (by people)," he said, referring to how the animal is considered to be a pest by livestock farmers.

He added that dingo populations were healthy in other places such as the central desert.

The predatory nature of the animals was given international exposure with the sensational case of Azaria Chamberlain -- a nine-week-old baby snatched by a dingo during a camping trip at Uluru in central Australia in 1980.

The public found it hard to accept that a wild dog could carry off a baby and a jury convicted Azaria's mother Lindy Chamberlain of murder.

She spent around three years in jail before the chance discovery of a piece of Azaria's clothing near a dingo lair led to a fresh inquiry which eventually saw her pardoned.

The final ruling in the case in 2012 found that a wild dog took the infant, finding clear evidence that a dingo was capable of "attacking, taking and causing the death of young children".

In recent years reports of attacks by dingoes or cross-breeds have included cases of both children and adults being attacked -- including a nine-year-old boy who died on Queensland's Fraser Island in 2001.

Wild streak
"You can't treat them like a dog," says McDowell.

"They've got a wild streak in them. They don't make good pets, they are not good with kids, they are not good with other animals. They are hunters."

McDowell runs a captive breeding programme in a rugged mountain area west of Sydney, carefully selecting among her 32 animals for breeding in a dedicated attempt to conserve the unique animal's gene pool for zoos and fauna parks.

Digger and Marle are two products of this work, after their parents were found orphaned in Queensland's remote Cape York region.

For McDowell, keeping the dingoes' genetic integrity ensures one of Australia's top order predators maintains its place in the ecosystem keeping feral dogs, cats and foxes at bay.

"We don't breed dingoes as pets by any means at all," she stresses. "They don't make good pets, they are a wild animal. It's like trying to own a crocodile in captivity."

© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

Today's News

December 17, 2013

Exhibition at Palazzo delle Esposizioni explores art in Rome during the 1970s

"The American West in Bronze 1850-1925" opens at the Metropolitan Museum

Portland Art Museum to show Three Studies of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon

Christie's New York announces Sale of Property from the Estate of Eric Wunsch

Sotheby's names Board member Domenico De Sole Lead Independent Director

INAH trains men and women from surrounding communities to preserve ancient paintings at El Tajín

Cambodia say United States auction house to return ancient Khmer statue worth up to $3 million

Andrea Lissoni appointed as the Film and International Art Curator of Tate Modern

Tikrit-born artist Rafa Al-Nasiri passes away at the age of 73 in Amman, Jordan

Perot Museum leaders mark first birthday by thanking north Texas community

A new venue for the important collections of the Achille Forti Gallery of Modern Art

Photographs that lay bare the Russian soul on view at Huis Marseille in Amsterdam

Fine and rare Turkish treasure tops Bonhams Fine Watches & Clocks Sale in New York

The CAC Malaga presents the first exhibition in Spain of Kati Keck's work

A host of new art world records achieved by Bonhams this year

Artist David Nash burns new sculpture commission Black Mound, 2013 at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Call of the Wild: Exhibition of works by Herb Williams opens at Museum of Texas Tech

Christie's aims to boost market, tap rich with first India sale

MOCAtv to debut new art + comedy series Ambiance Man created by Alix Lambert

Fears for dingoes as Australia's wild dog faces extinction

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Boy and an amateur archaeologist unearth legendary Danish king's trove in Germany

2.- Exhibition at The Met illustrates what visitors encountered at The palace of Versailles

3.- Philadelphia Museum of Art opens "Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950"

4.- Exhibition at Michael Hoppen Gallery presents a cross-section of works from Thomas Mailaender's career

5.- New York's Chelsea Hotel celebrity door auction raises $400,000

6.- Stevie Ray Vaughan's first guitar drives Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Auction to nearly $2.9 million

7.- Lichtenstein's Nude with Blue Hair tops $2.4 million sale of Modern & Contemporary Prints & Multiples

8.- $6.7 million Fancy Intense Blue Diamond sets auction record at Sotheby's New York

9.- Mexico court blocks sales of controversial Frida Kahlo Barbie doll

10.- Dutch museums to conduct new research on the paintings of Pieter de Hooch

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful