Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

The behavioural ecology of dingoes in north-western Australia. III. Hunting and Feeding behaviour, and diet.

PC Thomson

Wildlife Research 19(5) 531 - 541
Published: 1992


Observations from aerial radio-tracking were used together with analysis of scat and stomach samples to investigate the feeding ecology of dingoes, Canis familiaris dingo, on the lower Fortescue River in Western Australia. Between 1977 and 1984, 1948 records of hunting and feeding were obtained, and 352 scats and 119 stomachs were collected. Dingoes preyed predominantly on kangaroos, Macropus robustus and M. rufus, the most abundant and widely distributed of the larger native mammals in the area. In one site dingoes partially switched to alternative food (smaller prey and cattle carrion) when kangaroo abundance declined. However, they continued to hunt and kill kangaroos even when easyto- obtain cattle carrion was available. The increased utilisation of smaller prey by dingoes coincided with changes in sociality (disintegration of packs and an increased number of solitary dingoes). In a sheepgrazing area, sheep were 'easy' prey and dingoes killed sheep and kangaroos in excess of their needs for food, although kangaroo remained a major component of their diet. Dingoes cooperating in groups were more successful than solitary dingoes in hunting large prey (kangaroos, calves). Cooperative effort was not required for dingoes to catch or kill sheep.


© CSIRO 1992

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