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Canis lupus ssp. dingo

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CARNIVORA CANIDAE

Scientific Name: Canis lupus ssp. dingo
Species Authority: Meyer, 1793
Parent Species:
Common Name(s):
English Dingo
Synonym(s):
Canis familiaris subspecies dingo Meyer, 1793

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2e ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Corbett, L.K.
Reviewer(s): Sillero-Zubiri, C. & Hoffmann, M. (Canid Red List Authority)
Justification:
Canis lupus dingo previously was listed as Lower Risk/least concern. Improved information since then has resulted in the taxon being reassessed as Vulnerable.

Dingo's were formerly widespread throughout the world (Corbett 1995) and although populations of wild dogs remain abundant in Australia and other countries, the proportion of pure dingoes is declining through hybridization with domestic dogs.

Estimating Dingo abundance is difficult because the external phenotypic characters of many hybrids are indistinguishable from pure Dingo's. For example, populations of 'wild dogs' in the southeastern highlands of Australia have been fairly abundant over the past 50 years. However, the proportion of pure Dingo's, as based on skull morphometrics, has declined from about 49% in the 1960s (Newsome and Corbett 1985) to about 17% in the 1980s (Jones 1990) and the pure form may now be locally extinct (Corbett 2001). Such quantitative data is not available for countries other than Australia, Thailand and Papua New Guinea so that the following qualitative estimates of abundance refer to pure Dingo and/or hybrid populations as based on general body form, pelage colour and breeding pattern.
History:
2004 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Based on fossil (Olsen and Olsen 1977), molecular (Vilà et al. 1997, Corbett 2003) and anthropological evidence (Corbett 1995), the early primitive dingoes formerly had a cosmopolitan distribution (Corbett 1995). The primitive dingoes were associated with nomadic, human hunter-gatherer societies and later with sedentary agricultural population centres where the primitive dingoes were tamed and subsequently transported around the world. Austronesian-speaking people transported the dingo from mainland Asia to Australia and other islands in Southeast Asia and the Pacific between 1,000 and 5,000 years ago (Corbett 1985).

Pure dingoes have been demonstrated to occur only as remnant populations in central and northern Australia and throughout Thailand. However, based on external phenotypic characters, they may also occur in Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Viet Nam.
Countries:
Native:
Australia; Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Thailand; Viet Nam
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Estimating dingo abundance is difficult because the external phenotypic characters of many hybrids are indistinguishable from pure dingoes. For example, populations of ‘wild dogs’ in the south-eastern highlands of Australia have been fairly abundant over the past 50 years. However, the proportion of pure dingoes, as based on skull morphometrics, has declined from about 49% in the 1960s (Newsome and Corbett 1985) to about 17% in the 1980s (Jones 1990) and the pure form may now be locally extinct (Corbett 2001). Such quantitative data is not available for countries other than Australia, Thailand and Papua New Guinea so that the following qualitative estimates of abundance refer to pure dingo and/or hybrid populations as based on general body form, pelage colour and breeding pattern.

In Australia, pure dingoes are common in northern, northwestern and central regions, rare in southern and north-eastern regions, and probably extinct in the south-eastern and south-western regions. The density of wild dogs (dingoes and hybrids) varies between 0.03 and 0.3 per km² according to habitat and prey availability (Fleming et al. 2001). Dingoes are rare in New Guinea and possibly extinct as there have been no confirmed sightings for about 30 years (Newsome 1971, Brisbin et al. 1994, Bino 1996, Koler-Matznick et al. 2000). Dingoes are common in Sulawesi but their abundance elsewhere in Indonesia is unknown. They are common throughout the northern and central regions of Thailand, but less so in the southern regions; considered rare in the Philippines and probably extinct on many islands. Present in Malaysia, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, China, Myanmar and India, but abundance unknown. Dingoes are probably extinct in the wild in Korea, Japan and Oceania, although several local dog breeds share dingo-like characteristics.

Dingoes were formerly widespread throughout the world (Corbett 1995) and although populations of wild dogs remain abundant in Australia and other countries, the proportion of pure dingoes is declining through hybridization with domestic dogs. Estimated populations of pure dingoes and/or hybrid populations can be found in Sillero-Zubiri et al. (2004).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Dingoes occupy all habitats, including tropical alpine moorlands above 3,800 m asl. in Papua New Guinea (Troughton 1957, Newsome 1971), forested snow-clad peaks in temperate eastern Australia, arid hot deserts in central Australia, and tropical wetlands and forests of northern Australia (Corbett 1995). The absence of dingoes in many grassland habitats of Australia is due to persecution by humans (Fleming et al. 2001).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Cross-breeding with domestic dogs represents a significant threat to the long-term persistence of dingoes. Hybrids exist in all populations worldwide (including Fraser Island, Australia; Woodall et al. 1996) and the proportion of hybrids is increasing. A related threat to dingoes in Australia concerns the actions and consequences of ‘so-called’ dingo preservation societies, dingo ‘farms’ and legislation allowing legal ownership of dingoes by members of the public because most are based on known hybrids or untested dingo stock and thus effectively increase the hybridization process (Corbett 2001). The increasing interest of private individuals and groups in keeping ‘dingoes’ as pets in Australia and other countries including Switzerland and USA, also poses a threat via human selection of form and behaviour.

Bounties for dingo skin and scalps exist in some regions of Australia. Dingoes are also sold in human food markets in several Asian countries. They are also bred by private individuals and companies in Australia and USA and sold as pets.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Protected areas for dingoes only occur in Australia. See Sillero-Zubiri et al. (2004) for a summary of dingo occurrence in Australia's protected areas.

Although protected in Federal National Parks, World Heritage areas, Aboriginal reserves, and the Australian Capital Territory, the dingo is a ‘declared’ pest throughout much of its remaining range, and landholders are obliged to manage populations; the dingo is ‘undeclared’, but not protected, in the Northern Territory (Fleming et al. 2001). The dingo is not protected in any other countries of its range.

No conservation measures have been taken other than that the dingo has been nominated as a threatened species in the State of NSW and the Australian Federal Government has recently published ‘best practice’ guidelines to manage and conserve dingoes (Fleming et al. 2001). The efforts of dingo ‘preservation’ societies in Australia are currently ineffective because most of their stock is untested or known to be hybrid (Corbett 2001). There are no conservation measures for wild dingoes in Asia. However, in New Guinea, the Department of Environment and Conservation has indicated that measures will be initiated to protect New Guinea singing dogs (I.L. Brisbin pers. comm.).

Occurrence in captivity
Dingoes and/or dingo-like hybrids occur in many zoos and private facilities worldwide. Tests using skull measurements of deceased animals or valid DNA tests are required to assess the purity of captive populations.

Gaps in knowledge
1) Morphological and genetic assessment of the taxonomic status of dingo-like dogs in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, China, Myanmar, India, Philippines and, where present, their distribution, abundance, ecology and behaviour.

2) The ecological role of hybrids in Australia. If pure dingoes become extinct, will hybrids alter predation rates on native fauna and livestock?

3) Rabbits are a major prey in Australia but their populations have recently been decimated by rabbit calicivirus disease. What will be the effect on dingo ecology including predation on livestock?

4) What are the ecological effects of dingo control on feral cat and fox populations in Australia (mesopredator release)?

Citation: Corbett, L.K. 2008. Canis lupus ssp. dingo. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 03 September 2014.
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