Dingoes defended in wake of Azaria
CONSERVATIONISTS have come to the defence of dingoes, fearing the verdict in the Azaria Chamberlain case may have unfairly tarnished the animal's reputation.
Coroner Elizabeth Morris handed down a verdict on Tuesday, 32 years after baby Azaria went missing, that she was killed by a dingo.
The verdict cleared the names of her parents, who had been charged then exonerated over her death.
Despite two inquests - the original one in 1981 and the one that concluded this week - finding a dingo was responsible, Save the Fraser Island Dingo wildlife spokesman Ray Revill said the case had portrayed the animals harshly.
"Purebred dingoes, like on Fraser Island, are predictable and they're timid," he said.
"There was never a problem at Fraser Island until there were too many tourists and everyone wanted to interact with dingoes."
However, he admitted that cross-breeds and wild dogs such as those often found on the mainland, were a different story.
"I've got five dingoes and I have full trust and faith in them - I take them out in public and have never had any problems," he said. "I wouldn't do that with a cross-breed though, they are unpredictable."
Mr Revill said the problem stemmed from humans interfering with dingo territory, particularly when people fed the dingoes.
His sentiments were echoed by wildlife photographer and conservationist Jennifer Parkhurst.
She said dingoes should not be considered inherently dangerous, despite evidence given in the trial about Fraser Island dingo attacks including the one that killed nine-year-old Clinton Gage in 2001.
Ms Parkhurst said both of the fatal attacks - Azaria Chamberlain and Clinton Gage - could be put down to a combination of factors including food and parental supervision rather than just the "nature" of dingoes.
"Lethal control is another likely contributing factor, because of the social upheaval it causes among the animals."