“We, the people of the Wotjobaluk Nations, have had an immensely strong cultural and spiritual connection to Wilkerr (Dingo) for thousands of years, and it is part of our living cultural heritage. Wilkerr is a very significant Spiritual Relative, which is demonstrated through our Creation Stories and Rock Art. Wilkerr is an important part of our cultural environment and should be protected as a unique population but instead has been persecuted much as we, the Wotjobaluk people have been since Colonisation. We call on the Victorian Government to remove the current Unprotection Order on Wilkerr (Dingo) in the Big Desert Cultural Landscape and to stop all other measures that result in the killing and persecution of Wilkerr. Don’t wait until it is too late and they disappear through your neglect. We do not give you permission to kill Wilkerr, and we never did.
WJJWJ Members endorsed a statement from the Wilkerr Cultural Gathering event in June 2023.
Image: Bunjil's Shelter (Black Ranges, Stawell) John Gollings 2022 (Copyright)
Call to action
WJJWJ members and scientists have joined forces to call for new action to protect Victorian dingoes, which they say are being deliberately killed based on the mistaken belief that they are feral domestic dog hybrids.
BGLC will proactively engage and raise awareness that despite being a threatened native species in Victoria, dingoes do not receive the same protection as other native animals under the Victorian Wildlife Act 1975, and a Victorian Government program is almost certainly paying people to kill dingoes.
Recent comprehensive DNA testing has confirmed the ‘purity’ of dingoes and destroyed the previously held belief that they are predominantly wild domesticated dog hybrids.
DNA research has revealed that the Wilkerr population in the Big Desert parks are a unique group of Australian Dingo, which are distinct from the main Alpine, Desert and Tropical Dingo populations.
Our Elders and members raised significant concerns about the persecution and long-term future of Wilkerr, which is an important spiritual relative for Wotjobaluk peoples.
In Wergaia language 'Dingo'
Wilkerr has a very important cultural and spiritual connection with the Wotjobaluk peoples, as shown by our creation stories and rock art.
They have a significant relationship historically known as hunting partners and companion species.
Wilkerr is really important to healthy ecosystems. As the top predator in the Big Desert-Wyperfelds area across much of mainland Australia, they play an important role by regulating and reducing kangaroo, wallaby, emu, and feral goat numbers. This substantially benefits vegetation communities and the many smaller native animals that depend upon plants for food, shelter and breeding sites.
There are other effective and non-lethal ways to prevent or reduce the likelihood of managing dingo impacts on livestock, such as using guardian dogs and donkeys and strategic fencing, including areas where livestock may be birthing or have vulnerable young.
Science has shown that we can absolutely have productive farmland and healthy ecosystems that respect wildlife and culture.
The Biodiversity Council, a group of leading Australian biodiversity experts founded by 11 universities, agrees that the treatment of dingos must change, starting with the abolition of the wild dog bounty.
In light of the new DNA information and the determination of Wotjobaluk Nations members to conserve an important spiritual relative, BGLC asks the Victorian Government to take the following actions:
Stop using the term ‘Wild Dog’ and recognise Wilkerr for their unique Dingo status.
Remove the Unprotection Order that allows targeted Wilkerr destruction in public land.
Stop using 1080 poison baits in the Big Desert Parks complex.
Develop a Wilkerr Protection Plan in partnership with BGLC.
Redirect Wilkerr destruction funding to support non-lethal livestock protection methods.
Meet with BGLC representatives to discuss Wilkerr conservation in more detail.