RAINBOW Beach wildlife photographer Jennifer Parkhurst yesterday enthusiastically backed a call for dingo protection by renowned conservationist and United Nations Messenger of Peace, Dame Jane Goodall.
Ms Parkhurst was one of four people and two dingoes to have a private audience with Dame Jane at Melbourne Museum on World Environment Day, Wednesday.
The occasion was the start of an Australian tour which will include a visit to Australia Zoo.
The 80-year-old author and researcher, known for her 45 years of research with chimpanzees in Tanzania, called for urgent action to protect the dingo from extinction.
"It's very tragic to me," she said. "Really our domestic dogs are derived from them, and yet they're reviled and hunted and they deserve respect and they deserve protection.
"I suspect they will become extinct and the last few will be hybridised with domestic dogs and the dingo will be gone forever," she said.
Ms Parkhurst said it was "lovely to see Jane getting dingo kisses and getting up close and personal with them".
"I became involved in the Jane Goodall Institute in 2012, when I was in Melbourne to receive the Australian Wildlife Protection Council's Conservationist of the Year Award.
"Having been compared to Jane, because both of us were accepted as close family members and friends by the animals we observed, it was a real thrill to meet her.
"For each of us, our close relationship with animals as individuals and family groups allowed observations that would not have been possible otherwise."
Others invited to meet Dame Jane were aboriginal elder Dennis Wombat Murray of the Yorta Yorta Nation (owner of Warrigal, one of the two dingoes at the function), Marie Louise Sarjeant, of Tewantin, award winning conservationist and International Rangers Federation president Sean Wilmore and 2013 Eureka science award winner, James Cook University dingo ecologist and grazier Arian Wallach.
In a brief address to the function, Ms Parkhurst said dingoes were dishonestly portrayed as dangerous, aggressive and a menace.
"I lived with dingoes for seven years. The aboriginal people named me 'Naibar Wongari Yeeran,' meaning Our Sister Dingo Woman.
"I used to sleep with them, go hunting with them or mind the pups while the adults went hunting. I went on territorial patrols, engaged in ceremonies with them and watched them mating.
"They incorporated me into their packs and greeted me like they did other dingoes, by rubbing noses."
Dame Joan as UN Messenger of Peace said the world needed to treat young people with more respect and encourage them to believe they can make a better world.