Endangered Species in New Zealand

Elisabeth Weigert

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Maui's Dolphin

The Maui's dolphin is one of the smallest dolphins in the world. It is between 1.2 and 1.4 meters long and can weigh up to 50 kilograms. It is known for its solidly built body with its gently sloping snout and a unique rounded dorsal fin.

Diet: Maui's dolphins are secondary consumers, they feed on fish and squids.

Causes of endangerment: Maui's Dolphins are endangered because they reproduce in slow rates and have a small population size to begin with. They seem not to be able to detect nylon fisher nets and swim straight into them. It only takes a few minutes for them to suffocate. Propellers of motor boats can cause deep cuts that can either kill the individual or hurt it severely. Marine pollution also affects dolphins. All kinds of different substances have been found in a dolphin's blubber so far. The dangerous aspect is, that those substances get passed on to their offspring.

Ways to help: Only buying MSC certified seafood guarantees that no dolphins ore other sea creatures were harmed by accident. Organizations such as WWF intend to prohibit net fishing in that specific areas. Without human-induced deaths, the dolphins would be able to reproduce to keep their numbers stable.

Population: around 55 individuals in the wild

Status: Critically Endangered

Type of habitat: Maui's dolphins live in inshore waters, river mouths, estuaries, harbors and shallow bays within five nautical miles of the shore.


Tuataras look like lizards, but have spikes on their back. They are living fossils, what means that they are remnants from the age of dinosaurs.

: Tuataras are carnivores, they eat arthropods, earth worms, fish, snails, insects, bird eggs and small birds.

Causes of endangerment: When European settlers first came to New Zealand, Tuataras had already been rare. The introduction of new predators such as rats or other mammalian animals caused a decline in their numbers.

Ways to help: Tuataras have been saved with conservation initiatives. They have been bred by humans and their natural habitat was cleared from rats. Ten years ago, the Tuataras were released again and since then they became present in all their native islands. Those islands are strictly protected, visitors need special permits to go there and no foreign intruders such as predators, plants or diseases can get on there. Tuataras are hardly ever found in zoos, because they have to have a special permission to show them.

Population: about 10 000 in the wild

Status: endangered

Type of habitat: The natural habitat of Tuataras is unusual for reptiles. The islands are chilly, windy and full of cliffs and salt tolerant plants. Tuataras can stand the cold temperatures, in fact their body temperatures are one of the lowest of all reptiles.

Fiordland Crested Penguins

Fiordland Crested Penguins are black on the back and upper body and white on the anterior side. They have a yellow eyebrow stripe, also called crest, that extends past the eye. They can be recognized by three to six white lines on their cheeks. The feet are pinkish white.

: A Fiordland Crested Penguin's diet can be diverse, depending on the habitat. The exact composition of its food source is unknown, but they seem to eat cephalopods, crustaceans and fish. Therefore they can be described as carnivores.

Causes of endangerment: Fiordland Crested Penguins can be caught in fish nets and suffocate. Oil spills can be a threat, if it occurs near a breeding site at the right time. On land, introduced predators are responsible for declining the population. However, human presence affects the sensitive penguins in many ways. When breeding and moulting, the animals are easily disturbed and flee their nests, starve to death or suffer from lower fledgling weight and first year survival.

Ways to help: The penguins need areas where they can breed without being disturbed by human presence. If those areas could be banned for visitors, they would find it easier to successfully reproduce. Oil spills can be prevented, especially in the mentioned areas. A way of helping that everyone can do is only buying certified fish and seafood. This guarantees that no penguin or other animal was harmed by accident.

Population: It is unclear, how many penguins remain. In the 1990s, 2260 nests were found. The trend is believed to be decreasing, but the number could have been higher, due to nests that did not get seen.

Status: Nationally endangered

Type of habitat: The penguins live in the south of New Zeakand, including the various islands. Nesting habitats can be very diverse. They can be mature temperate rain forests, coastal shrubs, sea caves or rock crevices.

Dodo bird (extinct)

The Dodo Bird used to live on the island Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. It was unable to fly, because it had lived there without being disturbed for a long time. When humans came to Mauritius for a stopover, they killed Dodo Birds for food and brought new species to the island. This mix of exploitation and the introduction of new predators threatened the birds. In the year 1681 the last dodo bird was killed.

Works cited

"Maui's dolphin." World Wide Fund For Nature. WWF global, n.d. Web. 3 Apr. 2016

"NZ govt fails Maui’s dolphins on global stage." World Wide Fund For Nature. WWF global, 21 Sep. 2012. Web. 3 Apr. 2016

"Fiordland Crested Penguin." New Zealand Birds Online. New Zealand Birds Online, n.d. Web. 3 Apr. 2016

Craig Kasnoff. n.p. Bagheera. n.d. Web. 3 Apr. 2016

"The Dodo Bird." Bagheera. n.d. Web. 3 Apr. 2016

"Tuatara - New Zealand's living dinosaur." 100% Pure New Zealand. n.d. Web. 3 Apr. 2016