The Butchulla are one of three tribes indigenous to Fraser Island and have been resident for at least 5000 years, archaeological evidence suggests occupation could possibly be up to 50,000 years. Prior to European settlement the Fraser Island dingo lived in harmony with the Butchulla and were an intrinsic part of camp life, they held a significant place in their spiritual and cultural practices. This relationship was broken after European settlement and the Butchulla were eventually removed from the Island. The last mission was closed in 1904 and now there only remain a handful of surviving descendants.
As the law stands today the Butchulla cannot have their camp dingoes or interact with them in any way.
The dingo arrived in Australia between 4,000 and 18,000 years ago and under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 is a declared indigenous species and classed as native wildlife. Sections 17 and 62 of the Act also provide for the legal protection of the dingo as a natural resource in protected areas such as World Heritage listed Fraser Island.
Classified by the IUCN Red list (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as a ‘vulnerable’ species, the dingo is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future.
World Heritage listing resulted in an over whelming increase in both domestic and International visitors. The Island dingoes have come under ever increasing pressure due to ever expanding tourism.
The mortality rate from vehicle strikes continues to rise.
Visitors interfering and attempting to interact with dingoes can lead to human /dingo conflict. Whilst encounters with dingoes can be positive, those deemed to be negative result in animals being euthanased.
Dingo deaths can compromise the stability of the pack structure.
The controversial use of ear tags to identify individual dingoes can result in deformed or ‘floppy’ ears.
Debate continues regarding supplementary feeding of dingoes during periods of extreme famine on the Island. A severe shortage of food, due to climate change or other factors, could place the population at risk. Visitor’s should NEVER feed dingoes.
The environmental impact of tourism and the strategies to maintain a viable and sustainable dingo population are constantly under scrutiny. The challenge remains, is Fraser Island to be managed for the benefit of human visitors or are human visitors to be managed for the benefit and preservation of the wildlife.? Download FACT SHEET.