I thought this article was an appropriate one, with the recent announcement that there will be a new inquest into the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain.
Azaria was a nine-week-old baby who disappeared from a tent at Ayres Rock in 1980 during a family camping trip. Her parents were accused of murder and her mother Lindy ended up jailed, released some years later when a new and vital piece of evidence was uncovered. The case still remains unsolved, although most people have their own opinion of what really happened.
Can you imagine the effect such an event would have on your family? The Chamberlains had other children at the time of the disappearance and Lindy gave birth to another child in jail. Their family broke down after her release from jail and the children missed out on spending their childhood with their mother. Both Lindy and Michael Chamberlain have since remarried.
The officials in 1980 who were investigating what happened seem to have done a dreadful job of finding the facts, and have been blamed for the open-ended nature of the investigation so far. Unfortunately, Lindy Chamberlain cut quite an unsympathetic figure in court. That doesn’t mean she did it although I am sure that didn’t help sway public opinion towards her.
There are many documented instances of dingoes attacking adults, and children have been attacked and even killed by dingoes, most notably on Fraser Island where there is a large population of wild dingoes that have been habituated to humans.
The two-year-old in this article from 1937 was quite lucky to be found unharmed if a dingo was tracking him. I expect that back then the dingoes would have been far more wary of humans. They were more likely to shoot a dingo then than allow it the table scraps.
Having seen dingoes in the wild I have no trouble at all believing that one could take a small child. Once wild animals realize people mean food they expect to get food from all people. We don’t feed animals when we are camping, but if we stay in popular campgrounds this can be quite a battle at times.
We have had crows stealing teabags from the table and kangaroos opening the esky, all while you are standing right there. We have had a mangy dingo target our 7-year-old and his dinner one night and have to be moved on, kookaburras steal about-to-be-bitten sandwiches out of hands and meat right off the sizzling BBQ hotplate, startling the cook. Anyone who has been camping will know that animals of all shapes and sizes will come hoping for a handout.
The problem is that animals don’t understand the difference between things people want them to eat and things people want them to leave alone. If people encourage an animal to come for dinner they can’t expect it to leave hungry. The ‘don’t feed the animals’ signs in campgrounds are there for a reason. The Chamberlain family seem to have been the unfortunate victims of years of people teaching the dingoes people meant food. Hopefully the findings of this new inquest will help the Chamberlains find some sort of closure, and perhaps hold to account the ones whose mismanagement of the initial case caused such heartache for them.