Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Operation Koala at Bargo by Pamela King.

The night was still, the Milky Way glistened and sparkled but there was a chill in the air. The dingoes were restless.

Those living in the house, Merri, Flowers and Napoleon, repeatedly rose from the comfort of their arm chairs to go out and check the fence lines. The family’s investigation revealed nothing unusual and everyone settled for the night.

At midnight, savage snarls and spitting of a large animal rent the air. Merri whimpered at the door.

A dingo screeched. Someone screamed, “It’s got Flowers". Clad only in my night dress and grabbing a torch, Berenice rushed out into the night to save poor Flowers. Her son Ken grabbed a shot gun and thundered behind her.

Vicious snarling echoed from the other side of the fence. Something was savagely attacking Flowers. Merri joined her. Both courageously tried to fight off the intruder.

Who or what was it and why was it attacking the Dingoes?

A frenzy of fury resulted in a loud crash against the fence. Then, quiet, as the animal disappeared into the long grass.

Flashing the torch, Berenice first checked Flowers and Merri were unharmed. Looking around she was amazed to see an indignant Koala preparing for another onslaught.

Crash, as he flung himself at the fence screaming once again.

Despite living in the bush for thirty years they had no idea how to handle the situation. For some inexplicable reason the koala seemed intent on getting into the dingo yards to attack them. Berenice and Ken stayed calm and carefully guided him up a nearby tree.

When he seemed content and not intending to continue his attacks everyone retired back to bed. Peace reigned. Checking the situation early the next morning they discovered him back on the ground, running along the fence and still trying to get to the dingoes.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service were contacted and guaranteed to collect the trespasser the same day. There was just one condition, he had to be confined.

By now he was back up his tree, staring down nonchalantly at the steady stream of admiring neighbours gathering to see him.

They were told koalas are easy to handle; if you know how. One neighbour brought a collection of gum leaves for his breakfast, and he appeared content.

Another neighbour, reading from a book on caring for koalas, assured Ken he would not attack.  Not taking any risks, and determined to catch him without injury, Ken bound his arms with bags, reached up into the tree, then gently lifted him down.

The Koala had not read the book. He suddenly sprang into action, flipped right over and sunk all fours into Kens arms, all the time screaming furiously. Everyone watching collapsed into a heap laughing. Ken finally herded the visitor into a large dog crate where he settled down to finish his gum leaves in peace. During the afternoon a helicopter arrived to collect the koala.

For all the drama and minor injuries, Berenice felt proud to have had this unique native animal residing in her trees but knew his welfare could only be assured in the hands of those who understood the animal.

He was probably a victim of progress. At the time the M5 was being cut through local bushland, and many native animals had their habitat destroyed, or at the least, disturbed. 

The Walters and their neighbours had seen small mobs of wallabies making their appearance and were delighted to catch glimpses of the graceful members of our native fauna. The previous dingo breeding season, they had even heard the far off call of a wild Dingo from the distant gorges.

But with miles of bushland around them, she wondered why that Koala wanted so desperately to get into the house yard. Out of loneliness? Or did he seek the company of another animal he recognised as native?

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

The Truth About dingoes 16: The Dingo Needs Protection to Function Properly

The dingo barrier fence creates two ecological universes. Inside the dog fence dingoes are persecuted profusely and outside the fence less profusely. Inside the dog fence is a high density of foxes and roos, lower vegetation, lower productivity, reduced abundance of small prey. Outside the dog fence native prey are doing much better, green grass etc.

When predator control stops biodiversity recovers. Foxes are common where dingoes are scarce. Marsupials exist where dingoes persist. The dingo is more powerful when they are allowed stable social structures. Compassionate conservation- We need empathy and compassion. Is founded on the principle: first do no harm. Maremma guardian dogs see to this. Predator-friendly is the farming future. A paradigm shift in conservation.

The dingo is the number one key to save Australia's extinctions. Can we envisage a conservation paradigm based on compassion?

Yes we can.


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Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Donna: The World’s Only Hearing Dingo

From left: Donna and John, Lindy and Nic, Dinky and Jim

An accident while serving in the Korean War effected John Hogan’s speech and hearing. He learnt to communicate with sign language.

John’s wife, Nola, was also deaf. Their son, Skippy, would interpret for them using sign language and John had a hearing dog, Donna, a little Chihuahua.

On their first visit to the Merigal Dingo Sanctuary they met the dingo Napoleon. Visitors were always offered a cup of tea.  Napoleon soon learned climb on a chair at the table and gently paw the table asking for his cuppa.

John and Nola were stunned on meeting Napoleon. He immediately communicated with them in ‘sign’ language, banging on the kitchen table with his paw to get their attention. They were astounded, thinking he understood their handicap.

Once Nap knew his way of communicating was causing such admiration, he became quite a 'gossip', demanding their constant attention.

The Hogan family were amazed at the depth of conversation possible with this incredible dog and built a very special relationship with him.

When Donna died aged 20, John and Nola had long held the dream of replacing their little dog with a Dingo - one just like Napoleon to be named Donna 2.

But, not to be dissuaded, when the NSW laws changed in 1996 allowing dingoes to be kept as domestic ‘pets’, John got his dingo, and named her Donna.

At home she alerted him to knocks at the door, the fax machine ringing, a boiling kettle and someone at the door by tugging at his sleeve.

When enjoying a walk, she pulled him as bikes, skateboards or roller blades approached. Once she alerted him to a snake wrapped around a tree in the park.

John never worried while driving his car. His beloved Donna would tap him on the shoulder to alert him to the sirens of emergency vehicles needing to pass.

Donna always carried out her job with consummate devotion.

John and Donna were ambassadors for the rights of the disabled. While undertaking their promotional work Donna travelled by boats, planes and trains with Donna enjoying star status, always with Donna occupying a passenger seat.

When John holidayed in New Zealand authorities refused permission for Donna to board the flight until Qantas intervened. The country changed its laws and Donna flew free of charge. In New Zealand as John and Donna were boarding the ferry between Picton and Wellington one officious officer insisted Donna be stowed in a cage.

When they sailed to Tasmania, she was allowed into the en-suite cabin and dined in the ship’s restaurant.

Dingoes were not (and still aren’t) allowed into Queensland. It was thought John’s visit to Fraser Island would be without Donna or not at all. Enquiries were made, Donna was protected by a Federal Law allowing “passenger class” in the state.

Dingo Ambassadors

In 2003 three dingo ambassadors from different parts of the country met in Alice Springs to promote a greater understanding and protection of the Dingo.

A Dingo named Lindy travelled by car from Perth with her carer Nic Papalia to meet Jim Cotterell and Red Centre Dingo, the Singing Dingo, Dinky. Through his concert recitals singing to the piano, Dinky became famous raising $57,000 dollars for disabled kids. Dinky is in the game of trivial pursuit as Aussie's Singing Dingo.

Lindy had saved Nic’s life by finding help after he was mugged and left to die. She had a quick love affair with Dinky, but it only lasted until she took the last piece of chicken.

They met John and Donna at Alice Springs who travelling first class on the arrived on the Ghan train the same day.

After a chinwag and exchange of dingo stories, they posed for photo shoot. The photos of the three dingoes were published on the front page of the Alice Springs Times.

A film Dingo is not a Dirty Word! was made and shown at the Perth Short Film Festival and broadcast on the ABC movie show with Margaret and David.

A very special occasion indeed.