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Endangered Species Highlighted in Tourism Report

Plight of Endangered Species Highlighted in International Tourism Report

A dead Hector's
dolphin on a NZ beach. © Steve Dawson
Click to enlarge

A dead Hector's dolphin on a NZ beach. © Steve Dawson

Plight of Endangered Species Highlighted in International Tourism Report

New Zealand has received the worst possible ranking, last amongst 130 countries, for its protection of threatened species, according to the World Economic Forum’s latest Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report (T&TCR) [See: gcp/TravelandTourismReport/index.htm]

Care for the Wild International chief executive, Dr Barbara Maas, who is currently in New Zealand, says, “The T&TCR provides a timely wake-up call for New Zealand as the Government considers what protection will be afforded to the endangered Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins.”

The comprehensive T&TCR report ranks nations’ international competitiveness as a tourism destination. This year New Zealand dropped five places overall to 19th out of 130 countries as the report took a greater focus on environmental sustainability to reflect the increasing importance visitors place on countries’ environmental performance. Last year New Zealand ranked 14th, just behind Australia but in this year’s report, Australia was ranked fourth while New Zealand’s ranking fell five places.

“New Zealanders rightly take great pride in their country’s ‘clean &green’ credentials. However, despite making progress in some areas, this report shows that when it comes to caring for native wildlife, this perception is simply not based on reality.”

Between 110 –150 Hector’s dolphins die in New Zealand fishing nets each year. Hector’s dolphins have declined from an estimated 29,000 in the 1970s to just 7,000 today. The situation for Maui’s is even more desperate with just 111 remaining, of which less than 30 are breeding females.

The Maui’s dolphin is now ‘Critically Endangered’ in the International Red List of Endangered Species (World Conservation Union –, the highest category, and faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future. The Hector’s dolphin is ‘Endangered’ and faces a high risk of extinction in the near future.

The Government is expected to announce its response to the ‘Draft Hector’s and Maui’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan’ in late April, following a renewed delay last week. CWI says that none of the three management options included in the plan would provide effective protection for these endangered dolphins or guarantee their continued survival.

“Even option three, the one providing the best chance for the dolphins, would only give Hector’s dolphins a 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. The Government is also bound to base any decision upon the best available evidence.

“No one will have been overly surprised when late in 2007 China’s Yangtze River dolphin became extinct. However, New Zealand is proud of its unique native wildlife and takes a very strong position on whaling. Gill-netting poses the major threat to the survival of these species, yet this form of fishing contributes less than half of one percent of total fishing revenue. A ban on gill-netting would easily address this crisis and be cost-effective in preserving New Zealand’s international reputation. In terms of solving international conservation problems, this one is easy. We know there is a problem, we know what is causing it, and we know what needs to be done,” Dr Maas said.


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.
- 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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