MELBOURNE – A 2-year-old boy was airlifted to a hospital with bites to his head and body after a dingo attacked him on a popular holiday island in Australia early on Saturday, rescue services said .
“The child, who was on vacation with his family, is believed to be playing outside a house when the neighbors heard a commotion,” RACQ LifeFlight Rescue said in a statement.
“They would have gone to investigate and saw a dingo attacking the toddler.”
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The boy, along with his mother, was airlifted to a hospital from Fraser Island off the east coast and is in stable condition.
The dingo is a protected species on Fraser Island and is a popular attraction for camping tourists. According to the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, the island’s dingo population is estimated at around 200, with packs of no more than 30.
In 1980, little Azaria Chamberlain disappeared from a tent at a campground in the Australian backcountry, her mother claiming to be taken by a dingo. The baby’s body has never been found, creating a mystery that has captivated Australians for years and has been turned into a book and a movie starring Meryl Streep and Sam Neill.
Azaria’s mother Lindy was jailed for three years for the death of her daughter before being erased later. A court ruled in 2012 that a dingo killed Azaria.
Dingoes, introduced to Australia around 4,000 years ago, are protected in Queensland State National Parks, World Heritage Areas, Aboriginal Reserves and the Australian Capital Territory. Elsewhere, they are a declared pest species.
They occupy an important place in the spiritual and cultural practices of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.