It is believed that dingos have lived in Australia for some 5,000 to 10,000 years. Their origin is obscure, although they are thought to be related to the Indian Wolf.
As most Australians know, their reputation as killers was reinforced as a result of the Azaria Chamberlain case. Lindy and Michael Chamberlain were camping near Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) in Central Australia in 1980, when their 10-week-old baby daughter Azaria disappeared. Lindy, who claimed that a dingo had taken the baby, was subsequently jailed for murder, but after three years, new evidence was found which suggested that a dingo had indeed been the culprit, and Lindy was released. A film called Evil Angels was subsequently made about the story.
There have been other instances of dingos attacking children. In 2001, two dingos attacked and killed a nine-year-old boy on Fraser Island, north of Brisbane. In 2011, a three-year-old girl was attacked on Fraser Island, and sustained serious leg injuries.
Dingos are sophisticated hunters, sometimes operating in packs of up to five or six, and farmers say they will often kill far more animals than they need for food. Sheep, calves, rabbits, kangaroos, and emus are all on the menu. However, there have been very few reports of dingos attacking able-bodies adults, and although we usually see a few dingos when we’re traveling on the north side of the Dog Fence, we have never been threatened by them in any way.
Tourists who don’t know better are sometimes seen feeding dingos. This is frowned upon by the authorities, because it encourages dingos to hang around camp grounds and such places.
Although some people argue otherwise, most experts agree that dingos cannot be tamed, and are therefore unsuitable for keeping as pets. The dingo’s bark is short and infrequent, however the sound of dingos howling at night can be quite eerie.