by Juanita Nonwo – EM TV Online
A New Zealand-based biodiversity consultant has helped formulate the first ever National Invasive Species Strategy Action Plan for the Cook Islands to combat the Giant African Snail.
The consultant, Dr David Butler, says these snails are one of the most risky invasive species to the NZ linked islands.
The snails can grow to approximately 20cm in length, usually coloured brown yellow or red and are mostly native to East Africa.
In the Asia Pacific region, it was reported by the Food and National News Organisation that these snails have been found in Bangladesh, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Malaysia, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu and Vietnam, and its range is still expanding.
According to the Global Invasive Species Database, these giant snails are listed as the ‘100 World’s worst’ pest invaders. They are able to consume breadfruit, cassava, papaya and most varieties of beans, peas, cucumber and melon including 500 different types of plants and it also poses as a risk of being a disease carrier as they are known for carrying parasites.
“I think the Cook Islands have done very well with invasive species up to now. There has been very effective border control and they have eradicated some pests like fruit fly, when they have arrived, but we recognise that there is an awful lot more invasive species out there in neighbouring countries and there is more movement of people and more trade, so the risk is always there,” said Dr Butler.
Dr Butler says that Cook Islands is ahead of other countries in terms of bio-security programs.
“And when species are found here, it’s good to detect them early enough when it’s small in number in a small area that we know how to get rid of them.”