‘Dingoes were here first’: the landowners who say letting ‘wild dogs’ live pays dividends

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Some farmers see a vicious pest that should be shot on sight, others a native species that plays a vital role in Australia’s ecosystem

By their own admission, John Knight and Caroline Thomas are blow-ins to the cattle country in South Australia’s far north. An Adelaide cardiac surgeon and a clinical researcher respectively, they bought Evelyn Downs, a cattle station near the Painted Desert about 150km north of Coober Pedy, in 2006 and moved north a decade later.

From the outset, they took a different approach to many of their neighbours to what locals call “the dogs”. Where some farmers saw a pest and threat that should be shot on sight, Knight and Thomas saw a native species that had been part of the ecosystem for millennia and had as much right to be there as anyone else.

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