Snail farming may save African apes from poaching
Only about 300 apes survive in Nigeria’s Cross River National Park on the Cameroon border. Poaching from nearby poor villagers searching for food or meat to sell has reduced the rare apes’ numbers to about one-tenth of their population a century ago. “These are some of the most endangered apes in Africa,” says James Deutsch of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “The people are poor and protein is hard to find, so they will eat gorillas.”
Over the past six months, though, a pilot effort has trained and equipped eight poacher families to farm African giant snails, a local delicacy about 5 inches across, with funding from the Arcus Foundation of Kalamazoo, Mich., a great-ape conservation group. “Hunters will eat anything they find,” Deutsch says, but the likely profit from snail farming, about $413 a year, exceeds the profits from bushmeat trade, for which one gorilla’s meat earns poachers about $70.
Chimp infant, Cross River N.P, Nigeria (Credit: Cyril Ruoso)
African Giant Snail
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