Dingoes are free-roaming wild dogs native to the continent of Australia. They have a unique wolfish look that leads to many people thinking they are actually wolves. This is not true. They are just wild dogs. In the recent years, once urbanization has started to take over, dingoes have started to breed with regular dogs, which has caused the pure dingo population to drop significantly.
Moreover, many “hybrid” dingoes are adopted by people as pets, even though they belong in the wild and have different characteristics than domestic dogs. They are apex predators playing an important role in Australia’s ecosystems, being actually the largest terrestrial predators on the continent.
This means that they attack livestock, as do feral domesticated dogs, so they are seen by pests by the sheep industry. On the other hand, the cattle industry may benefit from the dingoes hunting rabbits, wallabies, rats and kangaroos. However, this has not stopped farmers from poisoning and killing dingoes. This is one of the reasons why the species has been placed on the “endangered species” list.
Besides being considered pests and therefore killed by angry farmers, dingoes interbreeding with domestic dogs is another reason behind their endangered status. For instance, experts estimate that in Victoria, only about 100 pure dingoes still live today. The loss of habitat is also a major threat. Even though there are many conservation areas for dingoes such as national parks and natural reserves, these dogs are declared pests outside these protected areas. Landowners are committed to control the local populations.
New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, and several other Aboriginal lands and UNESCO World Heritage Sites are the only places where dingoes are protected. There are many groups involved in conservation programs such as the Australian Native Dog Conservation Society, and the Australian Dingo Conservation Association. Their efforts focus on preventing pure dingoes from interbreeding with other domestic dogs, which is very difficult and costly.
Placing dingoes on the “threatened species list” is therefore necessary, especially since scientists warn that the species is close to extinct. Scientists also say that preserving dingoes will help farmers.
So, there are two main causes why dingoes are endangered:
- interbreeding with other dogs
- being “hunted” by unhappy farmers
Here is a great video that will provide you with more information on this subject.