SYDNEY • A father rescued his son from a dingo's jaws after the toddler was dragged from a camper van at an Australian tourist island, the authorities said yesterday, in the third such attack this year.
Paramedics said the family was on a remote part of Fraser Island off the Queensland coast late on Thursday when the parents heard their child crying.
"The parents awoke with the toddler crying and heard the crying getting farther away from the camper van," Fraser Island paramedic Ben Du-Toit said. "The dad got out of the camper van to investigate and found the dingo dragging the toddler away from the camper van. He also spotted several other dingoes in the... immediate vicinity. He immediately ran up and grabbed his son and chased some of the dingoes off."
The boy, reported to be 14 months old, was treated for two deep cuts to the top of his neck near the back of his head, and for minor cuts to his scalp, Mr Du-Toit said. He was taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital for further treatment.
The attack is the third this year on World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island and a popular tourist destination. The dingo is a protected species on Fraser Island. Two dingoes were put down last month after a French mother and son were mauled on the island.
In January, a six-year-old boy was mauled by the native animal as he ran up a dune on the island.
The authorities have warned visitors in the past to beware of dingoes, which are wild animals.
Native to Australia, dingoes came under the spotlight following the disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain at Uluru, or Ayers Rock, in 1980 for which her mother Lindy was convicted of murder and her father, Michael, of being an accessory. The convictions were overturned in 1988 after the chance find of a piece of Azaria's clothing near a dingo lair. A court ruling in 2012 found that a dingo snatched their baby from a tent.
Dingoes, introduced to Australia about 4,000 years ago, are protected in Queensland state's national parks, World Heritage areas, Aboriginal reserves and the Australian Capital Territory. Elsewhere, they are a declared pest species.
Dingoes hold a significant place in the spiritual and cultural practices of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Fraser Island's dingo population is estimated to be around 200.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS