More on the Dingo

The Dingo or 'Warrigal' is widely distributed over the continent of Australia. However they can not be found in Tasmania. The Dingo is generally believed to have evolved from a domesticated version of the Asiatic wolf , or the Indian wild dog (dhole) which accompanied the ancestral aborigines in their early invasions of Australia. There is no evidence that the Dingo preceded aboriginal man.

The Dingoes strong rear premolar teeth and the habit of silently hunting, are wolf-like characteristics , while its inability to bark indicates the primitive origin. However it does yelp and howl and can imitate the bark of the domestic dog.

The wolf will not readily interbreed with the domestic dog, but the Dingo will do so.

If taken when pups, Dingoes can be domesticated and the first recorded evidence of such was made by Captain Cook in 1770.In contrast to the domestic dog the Dingo breeds only once a year.

Normal litters number approximately six and the gestation period is 63 days.

There is no criteria to identify a Dingo from the domestic dog, except perhaps, grey matter.

Some say they can be distinguished by the number of teeth but this is not true. A domestic dog may have anything from 34 to 42 teeth, and this takes in the range of the Dingo.

In fact, there has been no serious study of the Dingo. At the Inglewood Research Center things are about to change.

Interesting observations have been made by the ranger, Jim Dabelstein:
Dingoes have three basic colours - ginger, black and tan and white. Those bred at the center are from the ginger desert Dingo. To the best of the center's knowledge that are pure-breds.

Three females and two males, bred in captivity, were brought together in one compound. An immediate dominance was established by one male. He moved around the compound, urinating on trees and came back and stood uncompromisingly over the other male. There was no doubt as to which male was the alpha. When they were fed the others stood back while he made first choice.

Then, as the female came into season, only he was seen to mate. Unlike a domestic dog, the second male was not seen to make any advances.

There were four pups in the first litter, three tan and white and one black and white. The tan and white pups turned to ginger as they grew up, but the others remained black and white.

Dablestein says the Dingo will not clean a wound like a domestic dog. He claims it will allow maggots to eat away dead flesh.

He says the Dingo appears less susceptible to fleas than the domestic dog.

Dablestein agrees with South Australian Kevin Hillary, who has tried to domesticate the Dingo, in that it would take four generations before a mutual trust would occur. "They are so desperate to steer clear of man, that they have been known to chew their leg off to free themselves when trapped. So I strongly believe that almost all the encroachments into man's habitat are by feral dogs and not by Dingoes at all. The Dingo runs away because of its intelligence, not because it is a coward. Conservationists look upon trapping as being barbaric, but do they have a better way? Arial baiting is out as the Dingo is too cunning to take the bait and it has an horrific effect on other native wildlife. I think I have a greater respect for the Dingo than most conservationists. I have seen some magnificent specimens, one or two I would have loved to have kept as pets. We are not here to wipe out the Dingo, but to control the area in which it may roam. By trapping we do a lot of good in the number of feral animals we catch. Wild cats are in plague proportions in this country. They are destroying the bird life. If conservationists directed their efforts towards their eradication and that of other feral animals, they would be doing far more good. Wee more readily catch wild dogs and feral crosses that would interbreed with the Dingo. With no distinguishing criteria this helps to alleviate the greatest threat to the Dingo - that of being genetically bred out. Trappers are true conservationists."

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