To the delight of conservationists, a small pup which was found in an Australian back-garden has actually tuned out to be a purebred dingo. Wandi isn’t even one year old yet, but with very low dingo numbers, the youngster could be a key asset in restoring the devastated dingo population.
According to the Director of the Australian Dingo Foundation, Lyn Watson, it’s uncommon for a sanctuary to bring in a purebred dingo. Wandi will play a crucial role in the breeding program to bring the species back to healthy numbers again.
“They’re our apex predator, they’re our lion,” says Watson. “Their job is to keep the kangaroo population down, that was their job before the coming of the Europeans, that was their job for thousands of years.”
Habitat desolation and hunting has resulted in a severe population decrease for Australia’s iconic dingo. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources has categorized the species as “vulnerable”.
A pleasant surprise
A couple months ago, Wandi was found in a yard in Wandiligong, a town in north-eastern Victoria. According to veterinarian Rebekah Day, the people who first discovered Wandi thought he was just a lost dog. When nobody turned up to collect him, they figured out that he wasn’t a regular pup.
Wandi was brought to the Alpine Animal Hospital where Day works in the town of Bright.
“He was very laid back and happy to be picked up. Really just ever so cute, he was just a little floof,” said Day.
Based on what appeared to be scratch marks on Wandi’s back, Day assumed that he was probably attacked by a big bird of prey and was dragged away from his family.
“There was no evidence of any other dingoes around; we have some large birds of prey in the area, and we have seen lambs and small dogs picked up on occasion,” explains Day.
The University of New South Wales confirmed that Wandi was in fact a 100 percent purebred dingo after Watson agreed to take him into her foundation, where Wandi was worked with to develop social skills. Watson’s breeding program includes around 40 adult dingoes.
“We’re just keeping the genetic lines going until the day that there’s going to be a safe place where they can be rewilded,” says Watson.