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Endangered Dolphins Pose Challenge For NZ

Endangered Dolphins Pose Challenge For NZ

Tourism New Zealand’s 100% Pure campaign, which makes much of this country’s pure natural environment and unique native wildlife, will become somewhat redundant unless the Government provides effective protection for Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins, halting their rapid decline.

That’s the claim made by conservation and animal welfare charity Care for the Wild International (CWI), an organisation who funds practical projects to ensure wildlife in regions in Africaand Asiaare safe from poachers, and rehabilitates sick and injured animals.

CWI’s chief executive Dr Barbara Maas, who is currently in New Zealand, says, “These dolphins live only in New Zealandwater and are facing extinction. Hector’s dolphins have declined from an estimated 29,000 in the 1970s to just 7,000 today. The situation for Maui’s is more grave with just 111 remaining.”

The Maui’s dolphin is “Critically Endangered’ (World Conservation Union –, the highest category, facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future. The Hector’s dolphin is ‘Endangered’ and at risk of extinction in the immediate future.

“Late last year China’s Yangtze Riverdolphin became extinct and now one of the ‘greenest’ countries on earth, a country that is proud of its unique native wildlife and its staunch stance on whaling is in danger of allowing an indigenous dolphin to disappear forever,” Dr Maas said.

The Government will later this month announce its response to a ‘Draft Hector’s and Maui’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan’. That exercise, which was led by the Ministry of Fisheries and the Department of Conservation, reportedly received more than 2,500 submissions.

However, CWI says that none of the three options included in the plan would provide effective protection for the endangered dolphins or guarantee their continued survival.

“Even option three, the one providing the best chance for the dolphins, only provides Hector’s dolphins with less than a 50/50 chance of recovering to their original numbers by 2050. This is in conflict with the Government’s statutory mandate for Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable species to become non-threatened as soon as possible, but at least within 20 years.

CWI warns that the implications of this decision extend far beyond Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins.

“If a progressive, environmentally conscious country like New Zealandcan’t or won’t do everything possible to prevent extinction for whatever reason, what hope is there for any of the world’s tigers, rhinos and other endangered species?

“The fact is that failing to act and consigning these indigenous dolphins to extinction would undermine New Zealand’s much envied reputation as an environmental leader and irreparably damage your iconic 100% Pure credentials. With so much at stake, we trust that the Government will demonstrate the same commitment to the threatened dolphins as it has to fighting the extinction of whales at the International Whaling Commission,” Dr Maas said.


For further information, please contact:

Dr Barbara Maas Tel: 021 207 6664 Mobile
Chief Executive 04 931 2927 Business
Care for the Wild International CWI)

Notes to editors:
1. Care for the Wild International (CWI)
CWI is a conservation and animal welfare charity that funds practical projects around the world. We make areas safe from poachers, rehabilitate sick or injured animals and provide sanctuary for those who can not return to the wild.
We also act as a global voice for wildlife through research, education and advocacy, and expose animal cruelty and wildlife crime.

2. Hector’s Dolphins Facts
 Hector’s dolphins are classified as Endangered by the Red List of Endangered Species. This means that Hector’s are “facing a high risk of extinction in the near future”.
 Numbers have declined from more than 29,000 in the 1970s to less than 8,000 today.
 Commercial and recreational fishing is responsible for almost 70% of Hector’s dolphin deaths. Because not all deaths are reported, this is a minimum estimate.
 Other threats include boat strikes, pollution, sand-mining, coastal development and harassment.
 Existing protection measures have failed to halt the species decline. Hector’s dolphins will only be safe into the future if all threats of commercial and recreational fishing are removed.

3. Maui ’s Dolphins Facts
 Maui’s dolphins are classified as Critically Endangered by the Red List of Endangered Species. This means that Maui’s dolphins are “facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future”.
 Only 111 Maui’s dolphins survive.
 There are just 25 breeding females left amongst about 60 breeding adults.
 Females only have one calf every 2-4 years and do not reach breeding age until they are 7-9 years old. These species’ potential for recovery is therefore extremely slow.
 Maui’s dolphins prefer shallow waters up to 100m deep and are therefore highly vulnerable to nets.

4. Images and footage
Images and footage is available at


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