Tourists' 'dangerous' behaviour sparks major change on K'gari: 'Ruining it'

One ranger on the island now known as K'gari says she's 'frustrated' by visitors flouting the rules.

Popular beachfront camping areas have been closed across K'gari, formally Fraser Island, in Queensland as "irresponsible" behaviour by tourists continues to provoke dangerous reactions from dingos (wongari).

There’s no shortage of signage warning visitors against interacting with the native animals, which can be dangerous, rangers on the island warn, yet there's still been a surge in reports of people flouting the rules.

Humane Society International’s Evan Quatermain said "the actions of a few ruin it for the many," but he applauds the state government's latest move.

"The value of the dingo on K’gari is greater than the value of tourism so something has to change," he told Yahoo News Australia. "People need to be held accountable".

Tourist interactions with dingos Fraser Island
Tourists continue interacting with dingos prompting a spate of attacks. Source: Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS)

A spate of recent attacks on tourists have been attributed to poor behaviour on the island and one ranger tasked with policing the area is feeling "frustrated". Speaking with Yahoo News Australia, Ranger Jenna Tapply of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service said visitors need to remember the animals are wild and they have to be treated as such.

Tourists ignoring rules to blame for dingo attacks

"Attempting to attract these animals or bring them in close for selfies is a really big one [we see]," Ms Tapply said detailing the behaviours the Queensland government would like to see change. "And the other behaviour that we're still seeing a lot of is children away from parents, and not being adequately supervised or kept close enough."

In June, a 10-year-old boy was attacked and dragged underwater by a dingo while camping with his family and a French tourist was bitten on the bottom while lying face down on the sand. Earlier this month two women were approached by a pack of dingos and attacked.

Attempting to feed the animals is partly to blame as well it robs them of their natural fear of humans. Last week, a man was filmed trying to entice a dingo with a water bottle.

Campsite closures a good thing: 'Serious crackdown'

The Queensland government continues in their efforts to educate people visiting the island, but still, the behaviour continues. Parts of the island have been closed as a precautionary, they said

Mr Quatermain thinks it's a "really positive move" to close down the campsites temporarily if people can't behave responsibly. "There really needs to be a serious crackdown on any of these people doing the wrong thing because they are ruining it for everyone else," he said

Dingo and tourists on Fraser island.
Tourists disobeying warning signs has contributed to a number of attacks on Fraser Island (K'gari). Source: Source: Department of Environment and Science

He slammed some tourists' behaviour as "disrespectful" to dingos, the indigenous culture on the island and also to other tourists who continue to do the right thing. "They are the apex predators and they need to be respected," he added.

Things for visitors to K'gari (Fraser Island) to remember:

  • Never feed or touch dingos.

  • Always stay within arm’s reach of children, even small teenagers.

  • Walk in groups and carry a stick.

  • Do not run. Running or jogging can trigger a negative dingo interaction.

  • Camp in fenced areas when possible.

  • Lock up food in stores and iceboxes (even on a boat).

  • Never store food or food containers in tents.

  • Secure all rubbish, fish and bait.

People should 'educate themselves' before visiting

"We just would like people to make sure that they educate themselves before they come to the island and do their best to actually follow our dingo-safe behaviours and rules, because it's not something we put in place just for the fun of it," Ranger Tapply said.

"It's to make sure that people are safe and they can enjoy their visit, but also that the wongari (dingo) remains safe as well."

Parts of the island will be closed off to tourists from August 17 until further notice.

Dingos on Fraser island
The dingos need to be protected, rangers say. Source: Department of Environment and Science

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