A farmer found the animal abandoned on a dirt track in Jamieson last June. He mistook the puppy as a koala at first because it had such a dark coat.
He dubbed the dingo “Sooty” after his ashen coat and the wildfires that have occurred in the area.
The unique sable-black coat also confused researchers at first, who assumed that the 6- to 8-week-old puppy was part domestic dog.
In fact, the Australian Dingo Foundation even posted about the discovery on Facebook, writing, “Sooty shows a unique coat pattern, sable, which would lead many to believe that he is not a pure dingo.”
However, when UNSW dingo genetics researcher Dr. Kylie Cairns ran tests on Sooty’s DNA, he was found to be a purebred, alpine dingo.
Alpine dingoes are one of the rarest types of dingo, and it’s especially rare to spot one in the wild.
Sooty, as a dingo with a black coat, is even rarer.
Lyn Watson, founder of the Australian Dingo Foundation, called Sooty’s discovery an “absolute miracle.” After all, the location where Sooty was discovered is also a known trapping area where adult dingoes are hunted.
Watson speculated that the pup was probably left to fend for himself after his parents had been caught by trappers.
“[He was] found in a zone where dingoes are actively baited, trapped and shot,” she said. “It is likely that Sooty was orphaned and left to starve as a result of his parents being culled.”
She told the news outlet that she was “incredibly overjoyed” by this discovery, which comes one year after another alpine dingo was found in the wild.
“For 10 years Victorians have been misled to believe that Alpine Dingoes have virtually disappeared from the Victorian landscape,” she adds. “So to have another wild Alpine Dingo cub, testing as pure, randomly found just a year after Wandi Dingo, is an absolute miracle.”
Dingoes are classified as an endangered species in Australia, with alpine dingoes considered the most vulnerable, due to their natural habitat coinciding with the eastern seaboard, where 80 percent of Australia’s population resides.
It is estimated that the number of wild dingoes in all of Australia lies somewhere between 10,000 and 50,000.
Sooty’s discovery gives hope to conservationists, who say he’ll be included in a breeding program designed to prevent alpine dingoes from descending into total extinction.
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