Western Australian Naturalists Club

Encouraging the study and protection of the natural environment

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The amazing world family of dogs: barkers and biters, by Mike Griffiths – DRB Nats

3 April, 7:15 pm-9:30 pm

Please note: The second Friday of the month is Good Friday, so this meeting will be held on Friday 3rd April. 

Did you know Australians spend 10 million dollars a year looking after their dogs? We are a dog-loving nation and there are dogs in many households throughout the Perth Hills and beyond. The types of dogs we have vary enormously from a tiny Chitsu to a large Labradoodle. But where do our dogs come from and what is their history and defining features, behaviours and ancestory? Come and learn all about the amazing family of dogs.

Topic: The Amazing World Dog Family: Biters and Barkers

Dogs are some of the best known animals around the world: “Man’s best friend” and faithful companions to countless millions of people. Yet there is a lot about the dog family that is poorly understood and many species are unheard of to most people. The enigmatic Small-eared Dog from the deep Amazon was rarely seen even by local indigenous people and only captured on video for the first time in recent years. Recent discoveries are shedding new light on the evolution and spread of the Dingo and its relatives – a long way from Australia! Can Chinese Dingoes possibly be more dinky-di and truer to the Dingo type than Aussie Dingoes?  What on earth is the tree-climbing, fruit-eating Tanuki dog of Japan’s rugged forests that features in traditional folklore? And why is the bizarre looking Bat-eared Fox so different to all other members of the family?

Dogs and their relatives – better known as Canids – include wolves, foxes, jackals, jackal-like zorros from South America, and a whole lot of seemingly aberrant relatives that just don’t appear to fit into our definitions of ‘wolf’, ‘fox’, ‘jackal’ etc. like the Dhole, India’s “Wild Dog of the Deccan”. This is an extremely interesting and diverse family that fill a variety of ecological niches in all types of landscapes and climates including Australia. Mike will discuss well known and poorly known species of canids from around the world, looking at ecology and biology of canids, conservation issues and cultural connections. In particular, Dingos and their overseas cousins will be given special coverage, including how Dingoes evolved into being part of the Australian ecology with ancient Aboriginal names and a firm place in Dreamtime stories around the country.  The Noongars’ hunting companion Twert was here in the Darling Ranges eons before Wadjelas (Europeans) arrived and is part of traditional Nyintin (Dreamtime) stories across the south-west.

Speaker: Mike Griffiths  

Mike is a life-long and passionate naturalist. He grew up in the Perth Hills, roaming barefoot as a boy through the Jarrah forest, catching Gilgies in the creeks and exploring the granite rocks. He travelled around Australia as a youngster with naturalist parents Kevn and Peg and four siblings, bush camping all the way. He came home six months later wide-eyed and thirsting for more exciting outdoor nature experiences.  Naturalist friends like Eric McCrum encouraged and mentored Mike, and it was no surprise that after barely starting high school he made up his mind that he wanted to study biology at university.

Mike’s natural history interests are broad but bird watching was his first passion. This fascination for birds slowly expanded to include practically all other animals including marine life, invertebrates and the dog and cat families.

After graduating at Curtin University Mike worked as a field ecologist and natural history tour guide across the Outback, a conservation officer in the Wheatbelt and an indigenous ranger coordinator in the Great Western Woodlands (Goldfields). He is currently working as an environmental officer in Peel-Yalgorup Ramsar wetlands based in Mandurah.

Botany also became a major part of his working life and remains a strong personal interest but his biggest passion of all is for the protection of our unique biodiversity and raising public awareness about its importance.

Plus

  • Kids’ talkone of your younger members (aged …) will be giving a 5 minutes kids’ talk – details later.
  • Boffins talk – one of our expert members will be giving an 8 minutes Boffins’ talk – details to be announced.
  • Nature road show”. Members and visitors are encouraged to bring items to place on the display table or to send photographs to the MC in advance, e.g. a sample flower, an insect, and so on – anything of natural history interest that has legally been obtained. If we have time, one of our experts will identify them or briefly talk about them, or the person bringing them can talk about where they saw it, etc. Photographs are particularly welcome, as everyone can see them. If you wish to show a photograph please email it, no later than the day before, to our MC for this night, and she/he will include it on her PowerPoint slides. We have a dedicated email for this purpose: DRBMC@wanaturalists.org.au
  • Door prizes: You could also be the lucky winner of a door prize. We make sure there are prizes for both members and visitors.
  • Raffle: We will have a great raffle  – please raid your piggy bank for a bit more cash, $5 for 3 tickets. Details of prizes will be given later.

Time: Please come at 7.15pm or earlier if you wish, for a 7.30pm start as we start promptly. We are open from 6.45pm. We finish formal proceedings no later than 9.30pm and stay for refreshments and socialising afterwards any time up until 10.20pm.

Donation: All this for only a donation of $3 per person for adult members ($0 for child members), and $5 per adult visitor and $1 per visiting child to help with the costs of running the club, venue hire, insurance and so on. Includes tea and coffee and home-made cake and biscuits (including gluten free). Please bring the right CASH to help us avoid long queues. Thanks. We do not have EFTPOS facilities yet.

Entrance: It is a condition of entry that everyone signs in on arrival, thank you.

Parking: Free parking right outside.

Wheelchair access: Everything is on one level.

Toilets: Are inside.

Bookings: Bookings are not required. Come early to get a seat at the front. There is plenty of room in our new venue.

 

Details

Date:
3 April
Time:
7:15 pm-9:30 pm
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