Dingoes - How Dangerous Are They?
Over thirty years ago a baby girl disappeared from an Australian camping site. Her parents say she was taken and killed by a dingo, a wild dog that is unique in Australia. Many people in Australia, however, do not believe the story. The fourth investigation of the case should be the last and will hopefully solve the case of the missing baby. During the case many questions have come up on how dangerous dingoes really are.
Although dingoes are wild animals, they have been thought to be shy creatures. But in the past decade there have been reports of dingoes attacking people and in one case killing a person.
Dingoes belong to the family of wolves, but they are often classified as a group of dogs. They look like medium sized dogs and weigh around 20 kg. Dingoes breed once a year and often live in packs, just like wolves. Scientists who have been studying dingoes say are highly intelligent animals and closer to wolves than to dogs. They like to live in groups and can solve problems quickly.
Dingoes came to Australia about 4,000 years ago, probably with Asian seafarers. At that time the native population had been living on the continent for over 50,000 years. Dingoes became quickly associated with Aborigines and a part of their lives. They gave them names and were a part of the family. Sometimes dingoes were even buried with their owners.
When Europeans came to Australia they saw dingoes as a danger to their farms and the sheep they brought with them. They killed the wild dogs and build a long fence to keep them from coming to southern Australia.
Today dingoes are treated differently, depending in which part of Australia you are. In some places they are looked upon as pests, while elsewhere they are preserved and protected. Public opinion can change quickly and one day they can be a danger to humans while the next they belong to an endangered species.
Many of Australia’s dingoes live on Fraser Island, situated off the southern coast of Queensland. About 120 animals live there, visited by over 500,000 tourists every year. Their behavior has been changing because they rely on adults and children who feed them and seldom hunt for food on their own.
Australian environmentalists do not understand the controversy about dingoes. They claim that if the animals are left alone they will not harm anyone. They watch and observe but do not attack people. But when they are attacked they turn aggressive and will protect their land and their young ones at all costs.
- Aborigines = native population of Australia
- although = while
- associated = to become friends
- behavior = here: how they live, the way they treat others
- breed = to have babies
- bury = to put into a grave after death
- claim = to say that something is true
- classify = to put into a group
- coast = where the sea meets land
- controversy = discussion
- creature = a living animal or person
- decade = a period of ten years
- depending = affected by something
- disappear = to be lost or become unable to find
- endangered species = group of animals or plants that are in danger of dying out and should be protected
- environmentalist = a person who cares about nature and the world around us
- fence = structure made of wood or metal that is built around a piece of land
- harm = endanger
- highly = very
- however = but
- investigation = examination , study
- native population = the people who have lived there forever
- owner = a person who something belongs to
- pack = group
- pest = a small insect or animal that destroys plants or food crops
- preserve = defend, protect
- public opinion = what the people think about something
- rely = depend on
- scientist = a person who studies something and works in a lab
- seafarer = a sailor or someone who travels by ship
- seldom = not often
- shy = nervous and not wanting to meet people
- situated = to be found
- solve = lead to a result
- treat = to behave towards someone
- unique = here: they only live in this area
- weigh = how heavy something is