How to Save Gorillas: Turn People on to Snail Farming

By Smriti Rao | April 30, 2010 12:38 pm

04-29-Cross_river_gorilla_2Gorilla conservationists in Nigeria have a new ally–snails.

The critically endangered Cross River gorilla is under constant threat from poachers in this poor nation, as poachers kill the animals for their bushmeat or sell them illegally to traffickers in the exotic pet trade. With just 300 Cross River gorillas left, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) hopes to offer locals an alternate source of both food and revenue so they’ll leave the poor apes alone. Enter the snail.

For this conservation project, the WCS picked eight former gorilla poachers and got them to start farming African giant snails, a local delicacy. The WCS helped the poachers construct snail pens and stocked each pen with 230 giant snails, writes Scientific American. As the snails breed quickly, farmers can expect a harvest of 3,000 snails per year. Scientific American adds:

According to WCS, this should end up being a fairly profitable enterprise for local farmers. Annual costs are estimated at just $87 per farmer, with profits around $413 per year. The meat of one gorilla, says the WCS, would net a poacher around $70.

Related Content:
80beats: Bushmeat Debate: How Can We Save Gorillas Without Starving People?
80beats: New Threat to Primates Worldwide: Being “Eaten Into Extinction”
DISCOVER: Extinction–It’s What’s for Dinner

Image: Wikipedia

  • lily

    so are these snails indigenous? what would their impact be on local ecology? will this project require large amounts of water and if so is it available?

    great idea, this stub just lacks a lot of critical info for the sustainability of the program. if the snail biz tanks what do you expect people to do then? they’ll go right back to the bushmeat trade.

  • http://www.howcast.com/users/rexsiteskrl RUTH MARQUEZ

    I’ve been looking around mblogs.discovermagazine.com and actually am impressed by the great content here. I work the nightshift at my job and it is so boring. I have been coming right here for the previous couple nights and reading. I simply needed to let you know that I have been enjoying what I have seen and I look forward to reading more.

  • http://rfhkcjy.com Royagmanada

    Cool, it’s I remember, to be ever

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