African snails invading a plant
THE war to eradicate the Giant African Snail in Solomon Islands is still on, as the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock through its Quarantine Department issued ‘Snail Baits’ since end of last year.
In an interview with Sunday Isles, Chief Quarantine Surveillance Officer, Crispers Fanai said that their department in their mission to crack down the invasive pest issued lethal chemical snail baits to residents.
“Since November last year, we have issued the baits to residence who contacted us for assistance,” Mr Fanai said.
“We have informed the general public via the national broadcaster to come forward and we’ll issue the baits and give instructions.”
Mr Fanai said currently there is no major program in getting rid of the pest; however they have proposed for a casual program hunting down the pest.
“It may cost the country millions considering the life cycle and the characteristics of this fast growing invasive pest,” Mr Fanai said.
Sunday Isles understands that the Government has also allocated a $1.5 million last year through the Ministry of Agriculture for the Giant snail’s eradication.
“We are fighting through snail baiting, hand picking, and cleaning up areas where they have spread,” MrFanai added.
“We also carried out training and awareness programmes at schools and the provinces and also inspect logging machines before they are shipped to the provinces.”
The result of their containment programme, he said, was that the snails were still contained in Honiara, Henderson, Foxwood, Okea, Guadalcanal plains, Ghoroboko and parts of East Guadalcanal.
A concern resident, David Magaobe said “the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) should secure more funds and act now so that together we can fight against the spreading of this fast growing invasive Giant African Snail before it is too late.
Meanwhile, the Quarantine Department also confirmed that recently the pest has been reportedly seen in Isabel province.
“We have received reports only from Isabel province, it has been reported that the pest migrated there when machines were transferred across for logging,” Mr Fanai added.
It is believed to have originated from East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) and later spread largely with the assistance of man.
The life span of the snail can last from five to six years depending on environmental conditions.
Snails are very susceptible to desiccation (drying) and require a moist, shady place to live.
The activity, growth and reproduction of the snail are highest in rainy weather and can stop or slow down when it is dry.
It has a distinctive relatively long conically shaped shell which can reach up to as long as twenty centimeters in length.