The dingo is a heavily discussed species among experts and laymen alike. There’s no scientific consensus as to whether the desert-red animal should be considered a native species; when and how it arrived in Australia; or if the dingo should be culled, contained or conserved.
Dingo expert and lecturer at the University of Sydney, Dr Tom Newsome, said fossil records show the dingo was definitely in Australia three to 5000 years ago, but genetic evidence suggests the species could have been around much longer.
“The theory is they were brought in by Asian seafarers and probably traded with the Aboriginal people,” Dr Newsome said.
“If they arrived much earlier, up to 10 to 18,000 years ago, there’s a possibility… that they might have actually walked in to Australia through a land bridge.”
But what ecological impact does the dingo actually have?
The dingo has certainly played a role as an apex predator, feeding on a variety of both native and introduced species such as kangaroos, feral cats and foxes. But in farming territory the dingo could prey on livestock, becoming a pest for the landowner.
Dingo advocate and president of Australian wildlife charity Aussie Ark, Tim Faulkner, acknowledged that the dingo does cause damage to agriculture.
But he said the role of the top order predator is very important in controlling large herbivores such as kangaroos.
“Those kangaroos, without dingoes, will get fundamentally out of control and eat themselves out of house and home,” he said.