Featured Image Credit: Sara Golemon
By Jessica Kittel
Toxoplasmosis just sounds terrifying. If you’re a bird or mammal, especially one living in the Hawaiian Islands, then it is terrifying. The Hawaiian Islands have long been concerned with the high numbers of the feral cat population. As stated on DLNR’s website, feral cats were introduced by Europeans long ago and have since done considerable damage to native Hawaiian wildlife. Feral cats are known as one of the most harmful invasive species in the world, according to IUCN. They’ve even been, at least partially, responsible for 33 species extinctions on various islands across the globe.
These feline fiends not only hunt and kill whatever they can get their paws on, they are also responsible for spreading the parasite Toxoplasma gondii via their feces. This parasite is responsible for Toxoplasmosis and can be lethal.
Recently more and more endangered Hawaiian species of birds and mammals have been testing positive for toxoplasmosis. According to hawaiinewsnow.com, it’s been the culprit in eight deaths of the very endangered Hawaiian monk seal. Even Hawaiian spinner dolphins, which spend absolutely no time on land, have been killed by toxoplasmosis. And those are just the deaths that we know of, there are likely many more that have gone undocumented because they didn’t end up washing ashore.
As difficult as it may be, feral cat populations will need to be controlled if these other species are going to stand a chance.