Box Jelly fish
"On the evidence, juries have always convicted the dingo, but it is a largely circumstantial case," Dr Stephen Wroe
The demise of Tasmanian Devils and Thylacine from mainland Australia loosely correlates with the arrival of Dingos between 3 and 10,000 years ago. This correlation has generally been explained as resulting from the native predators being unable to compete with the recent arrival. For example, in 1923, Albert Le Souef, curator of Taronga Park Zoo, wrote:
The marsupials-are-defective explanation is generally used to support warden-like approaches to conversation that rely on locking up the marsupials in reserves or zoos.
Another explanation, which seems supported by evidence showing Devils eradicating Foxes in Tasmania, decreasing Cat populations and being unaffected by dogs, indicates that a second explanation may be more plausible. Rather than being eliminated by Dingos, the Devil and Thylacine were eliminated by other means which allowed the Dingo to fill a void in the ecosystem that it couldn’t do previously.
Comparison of the attributes of the Dingo and marsupial predators does indicate that the locals had some definite advantages in their paths ever crossed. One of these was bite pressure. A 10kg Devil can exert a bite pressure as powerful as a dog twice a Dingo’s size. Furthermore, a Devil is low to the ground like a bull terrier, which makes it a shape more suited to defeating a Dingo in a fight than the other way around.
The Thylacine would also have been a formidable foe for a Dingo. It was longer, taller, and also had a far more powerful bite. Some colonial reports of their encounters with dogs indicate that they killed them quickly.
Of course, there is more to surviving in the Australian bush than being able to win a fight. Some arguments propose that the Dingo was a superior hunter and deprived the Devil and Thylacine of their prey. The main problem with this explanation is that the Dingo is more of a scavenger than a hunter because Kangaroos are very difficult prey to catch. As a scavenger, it would need to have one-on-one fights with Devils and Thylacines. Admittedly, Dingos are more social animals than both the Thylacine and Devil so they had the potential for social co-operation that the others lacked. That said, Dingos in Australia are largely solitary, probably because Kangaroos run off in different directions when scared and a single Kangaroo (if caught) is too small to sustain a pack of Dingos. As stated by Wroe 2003:
So if the Dingo didn’t kill off the Devil and Thylacine on the mainland, what did? Perhaps the same things that killed off other large predators like the Marsupial Lion and Megalania. Maybe disease, maybe Human action.
The only plausible explanation for the Dingo eliminating the Devil and Thylacine was that it did so in partnership with Humans. The Dingos provided Human hunters with the ability to follow animal scents. It may have been possible that Humans used the Dingos to follow the scents of Thylacines and Devils and subsequently killed and ate them. In return, the Dingo received food scraps. Puppies were even breast bred by Humans.
Deciding whether the Dingo eliminated the Devil and Thylacine is very significant in debate about whether the Devil should be re-introduced to the mainland. Some people are of a view that the Devil's only future resides in a cage because wild dogs would naturally out compete it as the Dingo once did previously. Other people are of the view that not only would the Devil not be out competed, but that it would out compete Foxes, Cats and perhaps even Dingos in a way that would make it easier for native prey to rebound.
Ironically, the Dingo itself is also being held up as a possible solution to Australia’s environmental woes. Professor Chris Johnson, from James Cook University, has argued in favour of reintroducing Dingos (along with Quolls and the Devils) to the various mainland ecosystems that humans have eradicated them from. Professor Johnson has stressed that native predator communities need to be rebuilt as they have the ability to remain in balance with native prey. As native predators replace the feral predators, or reduce their numbers, native prey is able to rebound.
Professor Johnson has some interesting research backing up his proposal. He has found that in places where Dingoes are rare or absent, and Foxes and Cats are abundant, 50 per cent of ground-living mammals have vanished. Where Dingoes remain abundant, the rate of local disappearance is 10 per cent or less.
Dingo may save Australian wildlife
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
by Sarah Wood
Activity 1 - Dingo and Thylacine comparison
Look at the comparison between the Dingo and Thylacine below.
Activity 2- Dingo Industry
Below are methods that allow some people to make money out of the Dingo. How do you think working in each industry would affect attitudes to the Dingo?