Wild World

Dingo: the dog that caused an ecological disaster on an entire continent

The first companion of man was the wolf. The first domesticated wolves and jackals, from which modern dogs later turned out, were somewhere in South Asia in the period from the 13th to the 11th millennium BC. Since then, the dog dutifully trudges behind “homo sapiens”. A person who shows cruelty to a dog or leaves a creature to its fate is worthy of censure. At the same time, history knows cases when a dog that lost its home almost became the cause of an environmental disaster.


A dog is not a man's friend.  / Photo: animaljournal.ru.
A dog is not a man’s friend. / Photo: animaljournal.ru.

Everyone knows that the wild dog dingo lives in Australia. Actually this is not true. Secondarily feral dogs live or at least lived in many parts of the world. For the most part, in the same South Asia, where the ancestors of modern “dogs” were once domesticated for the first time. The remains of dingoes, for example, are found by archaeologists in Vietnam, South China, and quite living varieties of dingoes are found in the forests of New Guinea. Dingoes were originally thought to have re-run wild in Australia. However, the oldest predator fossils found on the continent date back to 3,450 years. At the same time, the remains of dingoes found in Vietnam have an antiquity of 5,500 years.

Dogs are fine without a person.  / Photo: wikimedia.org.
Dogs are fine without a person. / Photo: wikimedia.org.

The dog was most likely brought to Australia by the first hunter-gatherer settlers sometime between 12,000 and 5,000 years ago. There, the dog inevitably ended up in the wild for a variety of reasons. Australia, rich and sparsely populated by man, in those ancient times became an ideal environment for the descendants of wolves and jackals to speak the guttural voice of an ancient furious predator. The situation was also complicated for the local fauna by the fact that, in addition to dingoes, there were not enough effective competitive predators there. As a result, the re-feral dog actually caused an ecological disaster, completely destroying several species of Australian marsupials. A number of smaller local predators, such as marsupial wolves, have also been supplanted by dingoes.

You can eat everything.  / Photo: obshe.net.
You can eat everything. / Photo: obshe.net.

Today, dingoes occupy an extremely important place in the Australian ecosystem. They prevent the disappearance of a number of representatives of native flora and fauna. In addition, the wild dog regulates the population of rabbits brought to Australia by man. The dog also helps to regulate the population of other herbivores, occupying the ecological niche of the previously mentioned marsupial wolf. In the 19th century, people massively destroyed dingoes, as they began to cause great harm to agriculture, primarily sheep breeding. The activity of the wild dog even led to the construction of a “dog fence” in the 1880s around agricultural regions. The fence is still in operation. Its maintenance costs the Australian budget 15 million Australian dollars a year.

Normal dog.  /Photo: keywordbasket.com.
Normal dog. /Photo: keywordbasket.com.

You can often hear that dingoes are extremely dangerous for humans, since they are not at all afraid of him. In reality, this is not entirely true. The behavior of a dog differs little from the behavior of any other wild predator. Despite the name and appearance, dingo dogs have long been turned into wild animals. Cases of attacks on humans are quite rare and do not differ much from the statistics of attacks by wolves. Some people even tame dingoes and keep them as pets, but in some countries of the world it is illegal to have dingoes. In Asia, wild dogs are often hunted and eaten by the locals.

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