Inspired by the name of the wolf ‘Two-socks’ in the film ‘Dances with Wolves’, this young male dingo’s name ‘No socks’ was abbreviated to ‘NOX’, when he arrived towards the end of a very wet January, probably evicted from the litter, looking saturated and crestfallen. In the way of dingoes in the wild, he is lean and his ribs are showing. We estimate his age at about 4-months. He still has a lot of growing to do before he reaches maturity.
We have always known that dingoes, Canis lupus spp. Dingo, exist in our rainforest. History tells us that early settlers, who were farmers, shot the dingoes to protect their cattle. Land in the Daintree was subdivided by government and sold as farmland, for small-scale primary production or horticulture.
A genetic study proposes that two dingo migrations occurred when sea levels were lower and Australia and New Guinea formed one landmass named Sahul that existed until 6,500–8,000 years ago. Seafarers from south-west Sulawesi in modern-day Indonesia may have brought the dingo to northern Australia. The earliest known dingo fossil, found in Western Australia, dates to 3,450 years ago, which led to the presumption that dingoes came to Australia with seafarers prior to that time.
Very few farmers remain in the Daintree and the Dingo has become a protected animal. Over the last twenty years we have become aware of an increase in their numbers and visibility. No longer threatened, they remain within their habitat and have even resumed a relationship with humans. The dingo’s relationship with indigenous Australians is one of commensalism, in which two organisms live in close association, but do not depend on each other for survival. They both hunt and sleep together. The dingo is, therefore, comfortable enough around humans to associate with them, but is still capable of living independently.
We have lived in the Daintree Rainforest for 25-years and this is the first time that a dingo has become an established member of our habitat and has accepted us co-inhabitant members. Nox continues to roam through the forest. He is not caged. He remains a scavenger, but he accepts our human presence.
This area has long been a cassowary sanctuary and we have reported on cassowary activities over many years. Big Bertha has become well-known as “The Grand Dame of the Daintree” and she has featured with several of her husbands in National Geographic and BBC documentaries. We would not want their sanctuary destroyed or threatened, so we are watching the developing relationships with interest. Taiga the local resident male stopped abruptly when he saw Nox. He silently turned away and slipped into the rainforest to avoid confrontation. Each day he gets a bolder and now he walks past Nox.
Big Bertha is the boss, the Queen of the Daintree. In no uncertain terms, she evicted Nox. First, the ruffling of the plumage, the drumming resonance that escalates into a crescendo as she charged towards the young dingo. Nox departs speedily and temporarily, to return when it is safe. He understands his place.