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Dingoes are wild animals: Be dingo safe!

A nine-year-old boy and his mother have been attacked by a dingo on Queensland’s Fraser Island last night, with Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) airlifting the pair to hospital on the mainland. QAS spokesman Michael Augustus has said the pair are believed to be French tourists and were bitten by the same dingo. This incident comes as a timely reminder that dingoes are wild animals, and should be treated with the respect a wild animal commands.

Unfortunately wild dingoes on Fraser Island, as well as across Australia, are treated by some with a complacency that you would associated with a domesticated puppy at the local park. Dingoes, despite how they are often portrayed, are indeed wild dogs, and need to be afforded the same respect. Should you be over on Fraser Island and come across a solitary, or a pack of dingoes, the respect of interacting with a wild animal needs to be given, which will ensure your and the dingo’s safety.

Should you feel threatened around the dingoes of Fraser Island, here are some tips that could save an incredible encounter becoming a tragedy:

  • Stand still and at your full height with your arms across your chest. This is to make yourself look as big as possible to the dingoes.
  • Face toward the dingoes, and very calmly back away.
  • If you are with another person, stand back to back.
  • If you need assistance, calmly and confidently call for help.
  • Wait until the dingoes have gone before continuing on your way.
  • DO NOT run or wave your arms.
  • As with all wild animals, dingoes sense fear; they are the apex predator of the island, and indeed Australia.

If you encounter a dingo, but are in a safe place such as a vehicle, or fenced off area, feel free to take photos and admire them. Dingoes are stunning animals that you can have amazing encounters with. They are indeed one of the greatest draws to Fraser Island, aside from the magic beaches, four-wheel driving and fishing of course. Dingoes should never be a reason not to go to Fraser Island, but arming yourself with a bit of knowledge can be the difference between having a safe encounter with an Australian icon, or a tragedy.

More information on how to act when in proximity to dingoes can be found on the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services site here.

 

5 Comments

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  • Nicely and appropriately written… (Great images to)
    The Dingo is truly a wonderful Australian apex predator – much maligned – and people need to be educated on its place in the eco environment. To simply ‘kill all the dingo’s’ because someone got bitten is not appropriate – education and appreciation is key 🙂
    Thank you Wes Whitworth for your post.

  • As with any wild animal, the first rule should be, DO NOT OFFER FOOD. The more this has happened it has caused wild animals to be less afraid of humans. I have only been to Fraser Island once. While their we encountered a Dingo twice, once at our camp, were the Dingo took off when it heard our diesel motor and the other time, it stayed and watched from a distance and left after a few seconds. We were at Lake Mackenzie then. But as others have said, here, don’t stay away. I would love to go back again. Barry

  • I Agree with the two comments ,overseas visitors do not understand or take notice of the signage or paper work given out I think the idea of an induction to the Island would be a great Idea and a questionnaire to fill out if the understood it. I have been to Fraser Island a few times but have not gone back since they close of some areas and got rid of the horses ,the other problem is they have taken away the food source ( rubbish bins ) were the Dingo could get a feed ,and now the visitor throws out scraps to entice the Dingo to come closer .
    problem is were and how does the Dingo survive ,with the rubbish bins sealed
    So the warnings should be easy to read .
    I have travelled a lot in the outback and as yet had no problems with Dingos they have been though my camp walked around my swag no problems ,to me they are a beautiful animal

    AJS

  • Why is it not mandatory to have passed through a centre where you get an education on how to behave on the Island? Since there are few points of entry and it is voluntary to go to the Visitors Centre, wouldn’t it make sense to set up a system where you need to acknowledge that you have seen a video regarding what is available and where, what you will encounter and how to behave in circumstances that you might encounter, such as meeting a dingo? It wouldn’t take much to set up a training video with a questionair at the end of each section. I have done multiple training videos done like this. Just answer the questions, and regardless of your answers you get to put in some personal details and get your pass to the Island. I am not saying this to create indemnity for the place, just to prevent the dingoes from bearing the blame of human mistakes (stupidity). If you want to do the video training again in order to make sure you know what to do (if you got it wrong the first time) then you should be able to repeat it. But if people have to acknowledge that they have been given information they generally behave differently than if not. Available at all points of entry, from ferry gates to 4 wheel drive tracks, and harbour entry spots. It would stop people thinking of dingoes as harmless dogs, instead of wild dogs that can turn savage in a second by giving a wrong signal. And uneducated 4 wheelers tearing up the place.

    • Lorraine, you make some interesting points, because most things are about education. My family live on the Sunshine Coast, and enjoy going camping on Fraser Island. We have stayed in a private campground, but more often choose National Parks. It has always been my family’s experience, as well as getting brochure from the barge operator saying same, to be given a talking to when we first arrive at our camping destination about the dingoes as well as a range of other safety issues e.g that we have adequate water even etc. On our last visit there in early January, 2019, the Rangers were almost embarrassed when they realised we had been to the island multiple times, (thus knew about dingoes; not what to do, not feeding them, how to store food and keep rubbish securely hidden; dealing responsibly with fish waste etc; & what to do if in tricky situation etc etc!), but they of course had to tell everyone, and which I had no problem with, whether I return a 100 more times, I’m happy to hear. Everywhere you go on that Island, there is also very good signage near food outlets; public toilets, in popular tourist places explaining about the dingo situation etc. The Rangers do a very very good job, but did point out, how complacent visitors can be. e.g. I was told story how couple not long ago, even after the day before being given a talk to by the Rangers about dingo safety, still left their small baby unattended to crawl around in a tent, whilst they sat on a distant sand dune, drinking wine! Joggers running down the beach by themselves, or others sleeping in the sand. Fraser Island is a profoundly beautiful place, where people can relax and learn to appreciate nature, but it is also a dangerous place, which relies on always being on good alert – even from venomous snakes, spiders etc. Similarly, I saw this carload of people one day trying repeatedly to cross Indian Head. Noticing their tyres seemed too hard, I respectfully inquired as to their tyre pressure, where they said 36psi. I then suggested that they should take air out of the tyres, say even down to 20psi (as I con’td to explain the basis for this!) They were overseas visitors, with average grasp of the English language, but where they were also clearly unfamiliar with 4wding on sand. Anyway, no amount of reason would convince them to pressure down, as they proceeded again; and again to pass over this difficult bypass, cutting up the beach as they did. I had to soon leave them, suggesting they confirm what I was saying to another 4wd driver, because I knew they would not get through, their 4wd also being a smaller variety. My understanding is that the locals generally ‘get it’ when it comes to the dingo situation, and it maybe that a greater effort needs to be made to make overseas visitors, many unfamiliar with out outdoor lifestyle. I love the dingoes, who have lived on that Island for a long long time, even in complete harmony with the Native indigenous people without incident. I think it is also unfair when Rangers must cull them, because of the ignorance of some visitors. My view anyway is, that if you go to any place, common sense suggests one read up everything one can, so as to avoid tragedy. Cheers!