A roadmap to meaningful dingo conservation

Allen, Benjamin L. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1533-0163 and Allen, Lee R. and Ballard, Guy and Jackson, Stephen M. and Fleming, Peter J. S. (2017) A roadmap to meaningful dingo conservation. Canid Biology & Conservation, 20 (11). pp. 45-56.


Many top-predators are declining and/or threatened. For these reasons, conservation efforts are a management priority for many species, and structured management processes are developed to facilitate their conservation. However, this is not presently the case for the dingo, which is threatened by introgression of genetic material from other and more modern dog breeds. There is strong support for dingo conservation from some sectors, but this support lacks the direction of a formal threat abatement plan. Dingo conservation is actively opposed by other sectors. Here, we evaluate the conservation status of Australian dingoes in accordance with the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee Guidelines for assessing the conservation status of native species according to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and also the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000. We also use the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) species translocation guidelines to assess the utility of translocation or reintroduction as a suitable conservation action for
dingoes. We further describe five socio-ecological facts about dingoes influencing their conservation status and management. We show that dingoes do not meet the criteria for listing under current threatened species legislation in
any Australian jurisdiction. We also show that translocation or reintroduction is not a suitable or appropriate conservation action for dingoes on the Australian mainland at this time, nor will ever be, so long as interbreeding between modern and ancient dogs continues and dingoes continue to naturally recolonise areas where they are currently rare or absent. The most important barriers to dingo conservation are (1) continued and inevitable intermixing of modern and dingo genes, (2) futile efforts from some sectors to have dingoes redefined as a distinct species, and (3) data indicating progressive numerical and range declines in pure dingoes. Despite these challenges, we show that internationally-agreed CITES regulations, livestock breed standards, and pet breed standards each already support existing principles to conserve genetic diversity of ancient breeds (such as dingoes) against the threat of hybridisation. In accordance with these international standards, we propose a set of criteria for categorising the free-roaming dogs of Australia into distinguishable groups, and we outline a roadmap to meaningful dingo conservation. We conclude that conservation of dingoes in Australia is warranted, possible and conceptually quick and easy to implement consistent with existing legislation and guidelines. However, this will require acceptance of dingoes as a uniquely Australian ancient dog breed largely free from modern dog breed genes, followed by implementation of strategies to mitigate the threat of continued interbreeding with modern dogs.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version, in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Institute for Agriculture and the Environment
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Institute for Agriculture and the Environment
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2018 00:48
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2020 06:29
Uncontrolled Keywords: Canidae; Canis familiaris; domestic dog; hybridization; large carnivore; recovery plan; top-predator
Fields of Research (2008): 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Fields of Research (2020): 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/33760

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