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By Ashlee Aldridge and Sandra Moon
Two dingo cubs sitting together.
The siblings were severely malnourished when they were discovered.(Supplied: Dingo Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre)
Sibling cubs recently rescued in Victoria’s High Country have become the latest to be revealed as purebred alpine dingoes.
Two orphaned pure alpine dingo pups have been found in north-east Victoria UNSW's Dr Kylie Cairns says dingos are a native species and important to healthy ecosystem function as Australia's apex predator Australian Dingo Foundation's Lyn Watson says the pups likely became orphaned after their parents were trapped and shot
The discovery of “Myrtle” and “Moko” comes less than two years after the finding of Wandi, the purebred Alpine Dingo.
The alpine dingos are a threatened species in Victoria.
The pups were found in October by local trail bike enthusiasts Kieren Lucas and his cousin Hamish McCarthy.
The Beechworth locals were riding their bikes on a private timber plantation, near Myrtleford, when Mr McCarthy found four starving orphaned dingo cubs around a hollow log.
"We managed to capture two of the cubs, a male and a female, but sadly we were unsuccessful in rescuing the other two that ran off in fear," Mr Lucas said.
The cousins contacted the Australian Dingo Foundation (ADF) who sent out a rescue crew.
“These siblings were severely malnourished and close to death, at just 3kgs they weighed less than half a healthy cub at the same age,” ADF founder and directory Lyn Watson said.
“I estimate they had been fending for themselves for a couple of weeks.”
DNA testing by UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science molecular biologist Dr Kylie Cairns confirmed the cubs to be alpine dingoes.
"Myrtle and Moko show no evidence of domestic dog ancestry and following on from the rescues of Wandi and Sooty, they are yet again another reminder that wild dingoes are persisting in Victoria," Dr Cairns said.
“It is essential for the public to understand that dingoes are a native species and important to healthy ecosystem function as Australia’s apex predator.
“It’s troubling to see the term wild dog being used to disguise the killing of this native species because generally, people do not realise that this term is used to lump dingoes in with roaming feral domestic dogs.”
ADF founder and director Ms Watson said the latest discovery was evidence the breed still existed.
“For the best part of 11 years now, Victorians have been misled to believe that alpine dingoes have virtually disappeared from the Victorian landscape,” she said.
"It is further proof as to why they need urgent protection just like Wandi and Sooty, Myrtle and Moko were found in a zone where dingoes are actively baited, trapped and shot.
“So it is likely that these two emaciated siblings were orphaned and left to starve as a result of their parents being killed.”
Myrtle and Moko will now live at the ADF’s 16 hectare Dingo Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre in Toolern Vale, Victoria.