Snails vs Bushmeat

gorilla2The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN reports that people in many African countries eat bushmeat, which tends to be more readily available and cost less than other forms of protein-based foods.  Modern hunting methods including rifles and poison are used, and the hunters target any animal they find including endangered animals.  Due to human population growth and related hunting, many species are liable to go extinct.

A glimmer of hope has appeared, and it’s centered around one of the smallest animals in Africa – the snail.  The Wildlife Conservation Society is working near Nigeria’s Cross River National Park, where bushmeat poachers have been killing endangered gorillas.  The Wildlife Conservation Society has helped local people establish snail farms, which gives the residents alternative food and livelihood options.

gorilla3In fact, farming snails is likely to bring in more money for the local people than does the bushmeat trade, which makes it a favorable alternative.  One reason some Africans hunt for bushmeat is that they have limited sources of income and food.  The Society is testing several alternative livelihoods, of which the snail farming seems the most promising.  Once built, the farms require little maintenance and quickly produce results.

Snails are considered a delicacy and delicious, which competes well with the people who like the taste of bushmeat, or think it’s more healthy.

SnailsHopefully the snail farming will save the local animals, including the Cross River gorillas.  A third of the Cross River gorillas live in the Takamanda National Park – unfortunately this does not save them from bushmeat poaching.  Solutions including alternative income and food sources need to be found, then spread throughout Africa.  So it may be time for us to develop a taste preference for snails, both in Africa and here at home, to fuel the market for this potential solution to the African bushmeat crisis.  My apologies to the 100 Mile Diet.  Does anyone want to comment on this?

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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