FRASER ISLAND: Wild dingoes on Fraser
FRASER ISLAND: Wild dingoes on Fraser

Confronting book: Dingo deaths inspire deep dive into plight

A BOOK investigating the history of the relationship between humans and dingoes on Fraser Island is set to be released next year.

Dingo Bold, tells of the destruction of an inquisitive young dingo on the island after a series of negative interactions with people.

The author, Rowena Lennox from the University of Technology Sydney, has completed a doctorate of creative arts studying the relationship between people and dingoes.

During her studies, she visited Fraser Island with dingo advocate Jennifer Parkhurst, who was fined $40,000 10 years ago after pleading guilty to 46 charges of feeding the animals on the island.

Feeding and interacting with dingoes leads to the animals becoming habituated, according to the Department of Environment and Science.

Visitors to the island face substantial fines if they are caught feeding or encouraging interaction with dingoes.

But in an essay published ahead of the release of the book, Ms Lennox argues it is difficult for dingoes to avoid becoming habituated.

She further argues there is no published evidence suggesting habituated dingoes are more likely to attack people and many critics of the Fraser Island Dingo Management Strategy dispute it.

Ms Lennox said in any case, dingoes ran the risk of becoming habituated from a young age, starting from when the dingoes were caught by rangers to have tags placed in their ears.

Dingo Bold by Rowena Lennox tells of the destruction of an inquisitive young dingo on the island after a series of negative interactions with people.
Dingo Bold by Rowena Lennox tells of the destruction of an inquisitive young dingo on the island after a series of negative interactions with people.

Then they are subjected to constant intrusions from people camping, exploring and adventuring into their territory.

While no part of the island is off limits to humans, the same cannot be said for dingoes, Ms Lennox said, and there is an expectation that humans should be safe wherever they go.

Between 2001 and 2013, 110 dingoes were destroyed by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service because they had shown behaviour "deemed to be unacceptable to human safety," Ms Lennox wrote.

The majority, 75 of the animals, were under two years of age.

While visiting the island with Ms Parkhurst, the two encountered a juvenile dingo they nicknamed Bold because of his inquisitive behaviour.

But it was this curious disposition that would get him in trouble, Ms Lennox wrote.

Ms Lennox criticised the different standards held for people and dingoes, in which any interaction was a potential strike against the dingo, regardless of the behaviour of people on the island.

"Typically, and optimistically to my mind, he left one group of humans to go and investigate another - not because someone had thrown sand and pumice at him, driven at him with a vehicle, waved a baseball bat at him, thrown bits of wood at him, chased him with a frying pan, squirted liquid detergent at him or gone at him with sticks and poly pipe and shovels," she wrote in the essay.

"All these actions against Bold were described in the interaction reports - and under the Fraser Island Dingo Management Strategy they were perfectly acceptable, appropriate responses."

Ms Lennox's book is described as a "thought-provoking exploration of the relationship between people and dingoes".

"At its heart is Rowena Lennox's encounter with a dingo on the beach on K'gari, a young male she nicknames Bold.

"Struck by this experience, and by the intense, often polarised opinions expressed in public conversations about dingo conservation and control, she sets out to understand the complex relationship between humans and dingoes," the description reads.

"Weaving together ecological data, interviews with people connected personally and professionally with K'gari's dingoes, and Ms Lennox's expansive reading of literary, historical and scientific accounts, Dingo Bold considers what we know about the history of relations between dingoes and humans, and what preconceptions shape our attitudes today.

"Do we see dingoes as native wildlife or feral dogs?

"Wild or domesticated animals? A tourist attraction or a threat? And how do our answers to these questions shape our interactions with them?

"Dingo Bold is both a moving memoir of love and loss through Ms Lennox's observations of the natural world and an important contribution to wider conversations about conservation and animal welfare."

The book will be available for purchase in January.

The department has been contacted for a response.