Reshaping the perception of the dingo in a call for its protection

6 November 2023
First Nations' perspectives lead the debate.
We chat to Daisy Grady, Veterinary Science student at the University of Sydney, about the profound cultural and environmental significance of dingoes and the importance of their conservation.

Daisy Grady with fellow students at the National Inaugural First Nations Dingo Forum in Cairns.

Bachelor of Veterinary Science student Daisy Grady travelled to Cairns this September to take part in the National Inaugural First Nations Dingo Forum.

Organised by the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, the forum provided the space for First Nations Elders, scientists, rangers, farmers, legal counsel, and artists to gather to dispel colonial misconceptions about dingoes, discuss their deep significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia, and call for legislative change.

“Dingoes are included in many dreamtime stories that connect people to Country and are a totem animal for many," Daisy Grady said. 

“They have struggled through the impacts of colonisation in a similar way to many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, so the current baiting and trapping of dingoes feels like killing family.”

For decades there has been a mistaken belief that pure dingoes are virtually extinct due to crossbreeding with dogs. This has contributed to dingoes being included as ‘wild dogs’ in Australian legislation and policy. Consequently, dingoes are not nationally protected, and the dingo population is being compromised due to the deployment of lethal pest control measures including shooting, baiting, and trapping as a means of protecting agricultural livestock.

The national dingo declaration states that killing dingoes is killing family and demands for an immediate stop to lethal management across Australia.
Daisy Grady, Bachelor of Veterinary Science student

Dingoes are genetically, physically, and behaviourally different to wild dogs. Earlier this year, numerous scientists across Australia signed a letter addressed to the government advocating for policy adjustments to the management of dingoes after new DNA research indicated that most dingoes are pure, shattering the ‘wild dog’ myth. 

Discussing the positive outcomes for land management if dingoes are protected.

Challenging public perceptions about dingoes and the established procedures for their management, dingoes are extremely important in supporting the ecology of the natural environment, for land management and for maintaining biodiversity in Australia. 

“At the forum, I learned that established dingo populations help reduce the number of introduced pests that are a threat to native wildlife – such as feral cats, wild dogs, and foxes – through hunting and by maintaining a territory which drives out other predator species,” said Daisy. 

“They also protect farm animals from feral dog attacks and help control the overpopulation of kangaroos, which can have negative impacts on the environment due to overgrazing.”

At the conclusion of the forum, a national dingo declaration was signed by representatives from more than 20 First Nations groups in support of dingo protection. 

“The national dingo declaration states that killing dingoes is killing family and demands for an immediate stop to lethal management across Australia,” Daisy explained.

Instead, the declaration advocates to recognise these animals as a culturally significant and protected native species, and therefore develop a culturally appropriate, evidence-based framework as an alternative to lethal eradication.

“I met so many passionate and inspirational people at the forum who have dedicated their lives to helping threatened native species like the dingo. It was amazing to see experts from different fields and industries working together towards a common goal of stopping lethal dingo control measures,” said Daisy.

Learn more about the national dingo declaration by visiting the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation website.

Related articles