Wongari videos show correct avoidance technique

Issued: 9 Aug 2022

Photo of a Wongari (dingo) in the distance. Dingoes exhibit many different forms of dominance testing and people should read the dingo-safe information.Open larger image

Wongari (dingoes) exhibit many different forms of dominance testing and people should read the dingo-safe information.

Two videos of an interaction between a dominance-testing wongari (dingo) and tourists on K’gari (Fraser Island) have shown the correct way people should react to prevent an escalation in behaviour.

The videos taken near Happy Valley show a solitary dingo trotting along the beach before directly approaching the tourists.

Ranger in Charge Linda Behrendorff said the tourists immediately stood together and backed away.

“Importantly, the tourists had read the wongari safety information before arriving on the island, and this is vital for all visitors to do,’ Ms Behrendorff said.

“The wongari is a juvenile male and it approached the tourists with its tail raised, which can be a trait of their dominance testing behaviours.

“It then closed the distance and vocalised before lowering its body and baring its teeth. It appeared to yawn but it was showing the tourists its teeth and appeared to close the gap on the tourists.

“This is a Code D interaction, and because the tourists had read the wongari safety information, they knew to make no sudden movements or run.

“The wongari continued to follow them as they backed away which is stalking behaviour. When they arrived at their campsite, they got into their car and the wongari moved on.”

Ms Behrendorff said the wongari is untagged and in good condition, and the tourists weren’t carrying any food, and they didn’t offer any food.

“From the video it is difficult to determine if the wongari has previously been fed, but it clearly had no fear of people,” she said.

“Rangers have identified the wongari to determine future management options such as tagging, education, temporary camp closures and to provide advice to other visitors and campers in the area to be careful.

“I’d like to commend the tourists for the way they handled the situation. They didn’t panic, they stuck together and remained calm.

“I’d also like to thank them for sending the video to the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service to dingo.ranger@des.qld.gov.au and for reporting the interaction.

“Interactions like these are the reasons the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation take a zero-tolerance approach to people who feed or deliberately interact with wongari.

“It puts other people at risk of negative interactions and puts the wongari at risk, and that’s why people are fined $2,300 for deliberately feeding or interacting with them.

“Another video taken recently on the island clearly shows why people don’t need to feed the wongari, because there is plenty of food.

“The video of a wongari carrying a deceased juvenile swamp wallaby was taken by another tourist and sent to us. There is plenty of food, so don’t feed them or you will be fined.”

Excerpt from the tourist’s interaction report:

We had a dingo walk up to us midmorning when we were on the beach near Happy Valley. It went to nip at my partners ankle, so we backed slowly away to our car which was about 50m away. Wasn’t a problem, but the dingo didn’t have a tag so I thought I would send you the videos we took. We didn’t have any food on us but it felt a little like he/she was begging.

We both read the dingo information packet before arriving to the island. We knew to make no sudden movements and that sometimes dingos were curious and would just sniff about and move on. But when this dingo sat and started snapping the air we thought we should probably get back to the car. We both crossed our arms and stayed close together as we backed away slowly from the dingo. After we both got into our vehicle and shut the doors the dingo urinated close to our campsite and then moved on.”

Videos are available in our media centre.

View further information on being wongari safety.