SAVE Fraser Island Dingoes before they are extinct!

Normally a population is considered to be genetically unsustainable if the effective (breeding) population is below 200. On K’Gari (Fraser Island) the estimated total population is unknown due to many of the policies outlined in the Program not being implemented and research funding and planned projects for the Island have come to a halt.

Recently there have been only nine (9) on the western side and seven (7) sightings; five (5) adult dingoes and two (2) juveniles on the eastern side. A more accurate population estimate is needed. This can be achieved by the use of strategic DNA profiling and other non-invasive methods, such as facial recognition technology. This approach could also potentially identify relatedness between individuals and groups. In addition, a facial recognition app could be utilised by visitors to the island to assist in the non-invasive recording of individual dingoes.
If we don’t change what “we” are doing then this unique population of dingoes is at risk of extinction. This includes a need for more research into the health and sustainability of the dingo population.

Considering the importance of K’Gari (Fraser Island) as a World Heritage listed National Park research must remain a priority and innovative methods of conserving and protecting the Fraser Island dingo should be constantly explored. Genetic research has identified K’Gari (Fraser Island) dingoes as being a unique lineage that are at risk of inbreeding. However, despite the importance of the population, there is little data on the levels and trends in genetic diversity. Although we have plenty of data on deceased dingoes there is no birth register. The potential consequences of lower levels of genetic diversity include reduced fitness and concerns for the long-term adaptability of the population. Therefore, to ensure the conservation of a self-sustaining viable population, and to assist with management decisions this much needed research should be considered a priority. Management of dingo/human behaviour remains a contentious issue with animals still being destroyed. There remains a large knowledge gap in understanding the causes of human-dingo conflict on Fraser Island and the factors that may lead to a negative encounter. We suggest that additional research be undertaken with a focus on eliminating the continued destruction of animals. Many of the policies outlined in the Program have not been implemented and that research funding and planned projects for the Island have come to a halt.

Do we have to get to the stage of a genetic rescue or is it the Government’s intention to rid the dingoes off K’Gari all together?

The determination of native title was a testament to the strength of the Butchulla people and their ongoing connection to the land when Native title rights were granted by the Federal Court in 2014. The Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC) who provides advice to the Fraser Island World Heritage Area Management Committee on matters relating to the protection, conservation, presentation and management of the Fraser Island World Heritage Area must be just as frustrated with the protection of their dingoes as we all are.

I am absolutely appalled at the Queensland Government for its continuing mismanagement of the Fraser Island dingo population and believe it is at crisis point. I call on Fraser Coast Regional Council to support Save Fraser Island Dingoes Inc (SFID Inc), Ted Sorensen and our community and apply pressure to save our distinct dingoes before they are extinct.

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