A tourist’s response to what was under his camper van has sparked a war of words as people weigh in on whether or not the man did the right thing.
In a video which has since gone viral, a dingo can be seen lying in the sand underneath the van, just metres away from the family's outdoor kitchen set up on K'gari in Queensland, as the man filming bends down to get closer to the wild dog.
"So we got a little friend gone under our camper," he says over the sound of loud music. "So this fella was running from another guy [a dingo] who was having a snap at him so I'm guessing he's hiding."
Telling a nearby family member to not "do any slapping [away of flies]" and "just don't scare him", the man adds that "he'll be alright, he'll be fine, he'll just leave". When the second dingo appears, the man urges the other person to go inside, "just in case this gets out of hand".
"It obviously felt safe," he said. "We just carried on as normal but without making harsh moves such as swatting flies. It stayed about an hour, had a little sleep under the camper, then wandered off casually into the bush."
Facebook flare up
But not everyone was happy with the seemingly peaceful interaction that took place on January 9 — a month after a little girl was attacked by a dingo on K'gari, formerly known as Fraser Island. Many Aussies accused the man of "adding to the problem".
"You shouldn't let them get that comfortable around humans, it's only asking for trouble and then the dingo gets destroyed,” one person said.
"They have no fear of humans anymore," another claimed. "You should have scared it and chased it away, building the fear. You never make a wild animal feel comfortable. Just because you're not feeding it, doesn't mean you're not doing anything wrong."
While a third added: "One of the reasons more people are getting bitten is because of actions like this."
But others were more sympathetic. "If you had tried to scare it off, it could have attacked you as it may have felt threatened in such a cramped area under your van," someone said. "You stayed calm, observed and didn't interact, perfect mate!" wrote another.
So who is right?
While dingoes have long been a controversial issue on K’gari, the rules aren't black and white.
According to a spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, "it's not uncommon for dingoes to approach vehicles and campsites, which is why it is crucial for people to be Dingo-Safe! at all times". That means keeping kids and young teens within arm's length, always walking in groups while carrying a stick, and camping in fenced areas where possible.
"K'gari's dingoes are protected native animals of massive conservation priority due to their important roles in the island's ecosystems and cultural significance to First Nations people," Evan Quartermain from the Humane Society International told Yahoo News Australia. "They're a big part of what makes K'gari so special."
He said the best thing to do if you spot dingoes in the wild is to not interfere. "Keep a safe distance before backing away slowly and calmly, as attempting to scare a dingo off could excite them and potentially make matters worse."
Debate comes after dingo put down
The video comes just days after a dingo was euthanised on K’gari after close interactions with humans. "So following advice to keep away from dingoes will not only protect tourists but also help save these precious animals," Quartermain said. "With so few left it's incredibly important."
The dingo euthanised had recently been involved in two separate attacks on young children in the Hook Point area, according to the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation. It was also responsible for bitting a man on the back of the leg earlier this month.
"Due to the escalation of the animal's behaviour, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has made the difficult decision to euthanise the dingo," the Department said.
"Euthanising a dingo is a last resort as it can interrupt the island's natural ecological and cultural wellbeing and impacts our rangers and the Butchulla people, particularly if visitors have not complied with our Be Dingo-safe! advice."
More tips to keep dingo-safe:
Do not run from dingoes as it can trigger a negative interaction
Do not feed dingoes
Lock up food properly — never store food or food containers in tents
Secure all rubbish, fish and bait
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