Māui dolphin
Image: DOC


This action plan addresses the threat of toxoplasmosis to Hector’s and Māui dolphins.

Date: June 2020

Long term goal of the action plan: By 2035, reduce toxoplasma loading to the marine environment so that the number of dolphin deaths attributable to toxoplasmosis is near zero

Note: This plan will be adapted as our knowledge improves.

Context for the action plan

Hector’s and Māui dolphins are small coastal dolphins found only in New Zealand. Hector’s dolphins live mainly around the South Island and Māui dolphins are only found on the west coast of the North Island (WCNI).

Hector’s dolphin is ranked as Nationally Vulnerable by the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS) and has a population of around 15,000. Māui dolphin is ranked Nationally Critical under the NZTCS and has an estimated population of around 54 individuals above 1 year of age.

The New Zealand Government’s response to the threats facing these dolphins is determined through the Hector’s and Māui dolphin Threat Management Plan (TMP). A review of this TMP was conducted between 2017 and 2020. During this review it become clear that, although there remain divergent views on impact and best mitigation options, one serious threat to the dolphins is the disease toxoplasmosis, and that there is a need to address this threat.

Hector’s and Māui dolphin Threat Management Plan (TMP) review

Toxoplasmosis is spread through the faeces of felids (cat species). Aotearoa/New Zealand has no wild cat species present but has the domestic cat which falls into three categories: ‘owned’ (pet) and ‘unowned’ (feral and stray).

This action plan reflects consultation to date, and is based on existing scientific evidence, but it will inevitably evolve and change as information gaps are filled and experience is gained finding and testing solutions.   

Download the plan

Addressing the threat of toxoplasmosis to Hector’s and Māui dolphins: an action plan (PDF, 4,710K)

Related documents

Science workshops

The Toxoplasmosis Action Plan proposed two series of workshops with key researchers and the participation of international experts.

The first series of workshops have been completed and focussed on refining research objectives and identifying research gaps and priorities, towards the development of the Toxoplasmosis Science Plan.

Report of the first series of workshops (PDF, 470K)

The second series of workshops will be held to develop the social science and management pathways.

These workshops will provide guidance to decision makers in DOC on the direction and focus of the science work in the toxoplasmosis action plan. Shaping and conducting this science will also require communication strategies and partnerships.

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