Inside the fight to stop dingoes being wiped out as they are poisoned in their ...

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They are as iconic to Australia as koalas and yet virtually no one blinks an eye when they are brutally poisoned in their thousands. 

Dingoes have been part of the Australian landscape for at least 4500 years but their days could soon be numbered.  

Mass slaughter of Australia's native dog by farmers who view them as nothing more than pests has been happening with government approval for decades.

Each year thousands of dingoes are shot or killed by 1080 poison, which was introduced in the 1950s. 

But an unlikely coalition of scientists, conservationists and dingo-friendly graziers have banded together to save the iconic dog from extinction. 

Decimated: Aerial baiting has knocked down dingo populations in some areas by 90 per cent

Decimated: Aerial baiting has knocked down dingo populations in some areas by 90 per cent

Counting the cost: Dr Thomas Newsome says taking dingoes out of Australia's eco-system has dangerous consequences

Counting the cost: Dr Thomas Newsome says taking dingoes out of Australia's eco-system has dangerous consequences


While scientists can't even agree on whether they should be classified as canus familiarus with the domestic dog or canus dingo, they are determined to change their status as a 'pest' and are pushing to have them recognised for the important ecological role they play as Australia's top order predator. 

Some of the faces in the fight to save the dingo are: 

 Dr Thomas Newsome lecturer in ecology at University of Sydney

Dr Newsome has co-authored a paper arguing for the dingo to be classified as a distinct species, rather than the same category as the family dog.

He said they are have been geographically isolated for at least 4500 years and have evolved into a distinct dog with a unique morphological behaviour.

'Very few people are aware dingoes are considered a legislative pest and destroyed,' he said.

'Control measures refer to wild dogs which is misleading, and I suspect there would be a different attitude towards control if the term dingo was used. Dingo evokes a very positive reaction.'

He said aerial baiting has knocked down the population by 90 per cent in some areas, without adequate measurements or tracking to assess if there has actually been a reduction of livestock losses.

'There are areas where they are completely eradicated.'

Back in the wild: Dr Thomas Newsome is lobbying the government for a dingo re-introduction program

Back in the wild: Dr Thomas Newsome is lobbying the government for a dingo re-introduction program 

'We are going to extreme lengths to alter the ecosystem and allow farming,' Dr Newsome said.

He argues taking dingoes out of the ecosystem can have a range of negative consequences, including an overabundance of emus and kangaroos and an increase in foxes and feral cats.

He is lobbying the government for a dingo re-introduction program which would allow him to study what happens when the top order predator is allowed to return and how the ecosystem responds.

'There is compounding evidence they can have positive effects.'

Angus Emmott the third generation grazier from Noonbah Station in Queensland

Mr Emmott is an outspoken grazier whose family have been on their station since 1914. His vocal support for the dingo has put him at loggerheads with other farmers across the country.

'I have been the subject for a lot of criticism. Most people don’t seem to be game to talk to me about it, they usually have a go at my son or wife.

'The reason most people don’t agree is because that’s the way we have always been doing it. We don’t come at it from the natural approach, we always wage war on foreign animals instead of looking at how to resolve it the natural way and those ways never work. We have been baiting for more than 40 years and the wild dog problem is getting bigger which should suggest something.'

Carnage: Thousands of dingo 'pests' are poisoned or shot each year to protect livestock

Carnage: Thousands of dingo 'pests' are poisoned or shot each year to protect livestock

Keep out: The 5400km long Dingo Fence was originally built in the 1880s to stop the dogs entering sheep and cattle grazing country

Keep out: The 5400km long Dingo Fence was originally built in the 1880s to stop the dogs entering sheep and cattle grazing country

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