Habitat degradation is ongoing in the South Island, but has been curtailed to a significant extent. Introduced ferret Mustela furo, stoat M. erminea and cats are major predators in the South Island and on Stewart Island, as demonstrated by the paucity of juveniles there15. Predators are also present in all main breeding colonies on the islands (except Campbell Island), but their impact is unknown3. Rogue female Hooker's sea lions eat 20-30 birds annually on the Otago Peninsula13. Population crashes may be due to avian malaria or biotoxins14, and food shortages due to sea temperature changes may also be a periodic problem7. Disease appears to be a major problem in some populations with diptheritic stomatisis (caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium amycolatum) and a Leucocytozoon blood parasite (formerly only known from Fiordland penguins) major causes of mortality for chicks17,18. Human disturbance, even from tourists at breeding colonies, negatively affects fledgling weight and probability of survival11. Drowning in fishing nets and accidental fires are additional known threats5.
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