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Dr. Jane Goodall steps in to help save Australia's iconic dingo

Dr. Jane Goodall with dingo
Dr. Jane Goodall with dingo Phil Hines

While Jane Goodall may best be known for her work with chimpanzees, the accomplishments of the English primatologist, ethologist and anthropologist go far beyond studying primates.

Dr. Goodall has received many honors for her environmental and humanitarian work. She is also an author, speaker, and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, an international organization to improve understanding and treatment of great apes and to contribute to their preservation. Her Roots & Shoots program provides youth the opportunity to get involved with environmental, conservation and humanitarian issues, and has local chapters in more than 132 countries.

Recently Dr. Goodall has taken on another important animal welfare issue: saving the dingo. Found mostly in Australia, if killed at the current rate, the free-ranging dog dingo faces the same fate as animals such as the African elephant, black and white rhinos and tigers in the wild: extinction within the next 25 years.

Last year, Jennifer Britton Parkhurst, founder of the international dingo awareness and conservation group The Ochre Project, along with Marie-Louise Sarjeant, it’s CEO, met with Natalie Houghton, the CEO of the Jane Goodall Institute Australia. Discussions led to the idea of having Dr. Goodall speak before a group about the plight of the dingoes in Australia.

Working with Houghton, Sarjeant was instrumental in bringing about the historical meeting, a year in the making. On World Environment Day, June 5, 2014, Dr. Goodall met with a group of environmentalists, scientists and dingo advocates at the Melbourne Museum. Two dingoes were also present. The meeting, according to Sarjeant, received positive media attention.

It was “a landmark day for the dingoes,” said Sarjeant. “With Dr. Jane supporting these much maligned animals so wrongly persecuted in the wilds of Australia... the needed high profile support from Dr. Jane Goodall for the dingoes, with her message to help our Australian environment, has been a turning point in the right direction to gain dingo conservation.”

An important outcome of the meeting was the idea offered by Dr. Goodall: a National Day of Action for Dingoes (NDAD). Dr. Goodall offered her support for and her name to help the dingoes on the event to be held on September 21, 2014, which coincides with World Peace Day.

The National Day of Action for Dingoes will be held throughout Australia, with some international support too.

The objective of the event, according to Sarjeant, is twofold: to unite groups and individuals with a common goal to help dingoes, and to send a clear, united message to the Australian government about dingo protection.

“Getting involved is easy” Sarjeant said. “All the participants have to do is organize an activity in your local area and take a short video or photos of it as this is a virtual event with multi-media and this is then posted on a dedicated Dr. Jane Goodall dingo page and posted out far and wide.”

Sarjeant will be facilitating the event. The unprecedented opportunity for dingoes currently has support from all across Australia. Dingo groups, zoos, wildlife sanctuaries and individuals are all joining together to save one of Australia’s most beloved, iconic animals.

For the first time also, Sarjeant stated, other wildlife groups have joined in the Ochre-contributed event in Queensland, on the Sunshine Coast. Koala Crusaders Inc. and the Flying-Fox Rescue Release Noosa Inc. have showed their support, while other wildlife organizations are uniting to help other Australian native animals at risk.

“All of these native animals are at extreme vulnerability levels,” said Sarjeant, “with encroaching suburbia and development along with old, out-dated views misunderstanding the importance of all these native animals in our fragile environment.”

Dr. Jane Goodall spent more than 45 years studying the social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania. She is considered to be the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, and her legendary findings on animal behavior, intelligence and interactions help show the importance of conservation.

Sarjeant hopes everyone will follow Dr. Jane Goodall’s example of doing their part to save our environment and protect the animals which are so precious to us. “If Australia is serious about saving our wildlife, for our children’s future heritage, we need to show our support for the environment helping our dingoes, koalas and flying foxes.”

Click here for the National Day of Action for Dingoes event on Facebook.

The Ochre Project is an international artistic educational collaborative effort to bring awareness change and preservation to the dingoes of Australia. Follow The Ochre Project on Facebook.