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Collaborative K’gari wongari health assessments – from the inside out

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K’gari wongari (dingo) are an ecologically, culturally and economically important component of the island, and as managers, we need to ensure their ongoing conservation. Part of this process includes the assessment of deceased wongari as an accessible sample of the entire population.

You can appreciate this is not a pleasant job or situation. However, the information obtained from individual wongari that die from various causes, both natural (fighting) and non-natural (car strikes), greatly improves the overall health assessment and conservation management of the K’gari wongari population.

Butchulla Land & Sea Ranger, Jodie Rainbow, and QPWS Ranger, Russ Simpkins collect necropsy data (Photo: Joyce Bonner)

The BAC’s Butchulla Land and Sea Ranger program and QPWS staff attend necropsy days as part of their ongoing collaborative wongari management and conservation program.  Necropsies are performed by a registered and experienced veterinarian with experienced staff and a mentoring program. This ensures that the ongoing health and condition of K’gari wongari is continually being monitored for anything that may affect the population and that knowledge is being shared.

Wongari are weighed, measured, assessed externally for condition, parasites, injuries and mange like a regular vet health check. The internal examination assesses less obvious causes of death, body fat scores, organ health and internal parasites, including heartworm or other pathogens or viruses like parvovirus (that can be spread by domestic dogs brought illegally to K’gari).

Another important component of the internal examination is stomach contents that assist in further assessing what wongari eat on the closed-island system before digestion alters the final scat (gunang) content.  Although not everyone’s cup of tea – observers are keen to get in and look for the various interesting items often encountered within the last meal, including many native animal species. All deceased wongari are respectfully returned to country.   

The BAC and QPWS are committed to ensuring wongari conservation.  Necropsy and assessment of deceased wongari are important for the management and conservation of K’gari’s wongari population. Any sick, injured, or deceased wongari should be reported immediately to QPWS.

Contributed by the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation and QPWS Natural Resource & Wongari Management team, K’gari

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