Dingoes appeared in Australia about 4000 years ago although no one is entirely sure how. These wild dogs are generally ginger with white feet however their coat adapts to where they live and in desert areas it is more golden and in forests it is more tan. They prefer live on the edge of forests but will go pretty much anywhere access to water allows.
Unlike dogs, dingoes don’t bark but they do howl. One dreaming says this is because he ate very hot chillies. In terms of food, they are opportunistic carnivores, mostly eating mammals such as rabbits, kangaroos and wombats. They also attack farm livestock, making them unpopular. Known to stash food, the dingo is prepared for leaner times. They can be solitary hunters but they can also come together in a pack to hunt. Like their colouring, this highlights the dingo’s adaptability. Further, they are physically very flexible as well – they have hypermobile paws and a neck which turns more than 180 degrees. It is thought that these apex predators may have been partially responsible for the extinction of the thylacine as dingoes were bigger and more adaptable.
Young males are often solitary and nomadic in nature and these seem to be the lens through which the dingo is viewed. When i was looking into them, I found the words roamer, vagabond and the idea of the dingo as constantly on the move. However, they tend to have a stable territory and breeding adults sometimes form packs; a mating pair plus some offspring.
Because of their similarity with dogs, I think their wildness hits people harder. We see something familiar and civilised which then does not act as we perceive it should, leaving us with this emphasised savageness. Our own clouded vision means this creature is misunderstood.
The dingo is also an excellent tool with which to view the difference between the historical British approach and the aboriginal approach to nature. Dingoes and aboriginal people lived for thousands of years side by side in balance. When the British arrived, we bought with us our familiar livestock; rabbits, sheep, cows etc. In many ways these weren’t suited to the environment and they disrupted ecosystems. Dingoes did kill sheep and other farm animals and soon found themselves cast out as a malicious hunter who killed for fun not survival. We insisted our continuing to impose our animals on a land that didn’t welcome them and soon action needed to be taken to control the dingoes. So we built a large fence. The dingo fence is longer than the great wall of china and sections off south east Australia. Instead of working with the new land and the animals we found, we fought against them. We tried to tame the environment we had thrust ourselves into. We tried to recreate Britain and showed no respect for the world we were in. This reminds me of the dragon, the European dragon being something that must be slayed, shown dominance over and the Chinese dragon being revered and respected.