Tuesday, 10 October 2017

A Home in the Country

Berenice grew up in the Sydney suburb of Maroubra and although at that time there was the beach and plenty of open space for children to play in (and get into mischief) she yearned to live in the country.

When she married Bern, her dream came true and off to the bush they went when he got a job as a stockman. Life wasn’t always idyllic but she was in love, there were wide open spaces and her horse, Gai, was happy.

A couple of years later they purchased a property in Bargo, south west of Sydney, where they worked hard to build up their farm with cattle, poultry and an orchard.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The Truth about Dingoes 8: Dingo, guardian of Australia's unique fauna and flora

Research has demonstrated that dingoes have a profound influence on ecosystem structure. 

The ecological influence of dingoes is so important in fact, that many native species can only persist where dingoes are present.

Dingoes suppress mesopredators (foxes & cats) and herbivores (rabbits, kangaroos, emus, feral goats & pigs), which enables small mammals to increase in abundance. Where predator control is relaxed, vegetation cover and diversity also increase.

Because dingoes are socially complex, they are particularly sensitive to lethal control.

Dingoes are deeply social and intelligent beings. They care for each other, hunt together, maintain territories and traditions, and their ecological influence is tightly linked with their pack structure.

To recover Australia's ecosystems, predator control practises must be eliminated entirely, and dingoes given full protection.

It is the pack that is the apex predator, not the individual dingo.

Many ecologists now recognise that the disruption of dingo populations has been the ultimate driving force of extinction and land degradation in Australia.

The ecosystem does recover when dingo populations are restored.

As Australia’s "top land predator", dingoes have a mixed reputation. Farmers have long lamented their attacks on livestock, and in the public mind they are associated with the disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain in 1980.

In most states, dingoes are classified as vermin, which means it’s legal to bait, trap and shoot dingoes and crossbred wild dogs. 

But some farmers are finding a dingo-friendly approach is gaining better results. 

Not too long ago a Queensland cattle farmer (Angus Emmott) recalled the following, 

“As a youngster we used to always bait and we were always putting traps out and trapping dingoes,” “So it was an ongoing war back in the day.”

But these days Angus lets dingoes roam free on his farm.

“At no effort to yourself it provides control of your feral animals and also your large number of roos,” he says.

“So it’s a win-win. In saying that, dingoes do take a certain no of calves - it’s very low, but I think with all the other benefits that’s a pretty small price to pay.”

Research backs up the idea that attempts to eliminate dingoes are counter-productive.

In some cases where they have killed dingoes they have seen more stock loss - more animals killed than before and more dingoes living in that area rather than less, (but in fractured pack structures)! There are also other negative effects; more kangaroos, more foxes. So overall it’s been unsuccessful.

Australia's dingo is a extraordinary animal, that is able to more or less do the job of a lion or tiger; just because it looks like dog, it loses any value, when it is the most valuable animal in our ecosystem.

But the wool board feels that dingoes and wild dogs remain the sheep farmer’s worst enemy.
They say "in the long run their numbers have got to be significantly reduced,” and Wool Producers Australia has put together a national wild dog action plan to rid our dingoes that we've got in rural Australia.

It's a fact that we need our dingoes and we must get them off of the vermin listing.

If we can learn to coexist with the dingo without lethal control, we can and will all benefit...

The dingoes future ultimately depends on how we - governments, landholders, scientists, conservationists, the public and the media - chooses to see them and how this influences our views on how we should or shouldn't manage them. Ideally a sustainable coexistence that favours non-lethal approaches to conflict resolution. Such as concentrating on guardian livestock animals with no further baiting.

Information reproduced with permission from http://jennyleeparker3.wixsite.com/aussie-canis-dingo

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Dingo Books to Avoid

When Berenice and her husband, Bern, began breeding Australian Cattle Dogs she spent many hours researching the history of the breed which had been developed with Dingo infusion.

However, with this research she had a rapidly mushrooming curiosity, and portfolio, building up about the Dingo, and I started to keep records of anything I could find on the animal that intrigued her so much.

Aside from periodic short progress reports from the CSIRO and some information from the research carried out by Professor MacIntosh of Sydney University during the 1950's, reliable information on the Dingo, was virtually non-existent up to the 1970's. As far as the public was concerned the Dingo was a yellow dog with an evil expression that killed sheep.


Back in September 2015 I wrote a blog titled Word of Advice to New Dingo Researchers http://dingolady.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/word-of-advice-to-new-dingo-researchers.html.

Since then I have come across two upsetting books about the Dingo that astounded me are still popping up.  I must emphasise that these are NOT recommended reading material. I am highlighting them here so we can be aware they may still be floating around.

The first is titled Dingoes by Colin Bednall published in 1967. It was part of the Life in Australia series. This book was in Berenice’s collection and had been sent to her by a society member in 1997. The lady found it on a table of “withdrawn” books at a school fete and felt it had to be removed. I know that was 20 years ago but I was shocked that, even at that time so much had already been achieved to gain support for the dingo, that this book was in a school library.

It is full of all the old myths and legends about dingoes calling them both cowards and aggressive. It promotes dingo hunting as ‘exciting’ and mentions how cattlemen and trappers look forward to ‘puppy season’.  Some of the statements are simply too sickening to mention here.

According to Trove, a book search engine that includes content from libraries, museums, archives, repositories and other research and collecting organisations, copies are still held in 10 state, university and other libraries across Australia. 

I didn’t check all libraries but at least the NSW State Library copy is stored onsite at the Mitchell Library and not generally available for loan. It is also classified as JUVEILLE literature.

The second book is The Australian Dingo (King of the Bush) by JS Bacon published in 1955. This book I picked up from a second-hand bookshop last year.

You only have to look at the chapter titles to see how it is slanted against the dingo. Just two are Getting to Know the Enemy and Preparing for the Hunt. In the Forward, Bacon states he wrote the book to assist land and stock men in their endeavours to rid themselves of these terrible pests. He was obviously a “dogger”. He talks about areas of “infestation” and the “treacherous, deceitful” look of the dingo.

Trove lists eight libraries that have this book in their collections.

With both books, there are passages so wrong and appalling I cannot bring myself to mention or quote them.

Is it any wonder that with books like this Australians were brainwashed against the dingo?

Given the life of second hand books, how many similar books are still out there? I will certainly be on the lookout for any more if only to remove them from circulation. I hope all others who love and understand our beautiful dingo will do the same.