Giant African Snail

Giant African Snail (Binomial name- Achatina fulica) is a species of large land snail. It feeds aggressively and causes damage to agricultural crops and native plants.

Key Points

  • Giant African snails are native to East Africa as the name suggests.
  • The height of the snails is around 7 cm and their length is approximately 20cm.
  • The shell of the snail is conical in shape and is double the height of its broad. The shell is also very tough.
  • The snails are said to eat plants, vegetables, fruits, paper, and cardboard. They sometimes also eat sand, very short stones, and bones from carcasses.
  • The snail is declared as one of the worst invasive species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The Giant African Snail is suspected to spread diseases like septicaemia, eosinophilic meningitis, and peritonitis in humans.

Giant African Snail Invasion in India

  • As per a recent study, the giant snail species had invaded India, particularly Kerala, multiple times.
  • The study was conducted at the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) along with the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology, and Environment (KSCSTE), UAE’s Environmental Agency, UK’s Nottingham University, and London’s Natural History Museum.
  • The study was conducted between the years 2016 and 2020.
  • The snail is said to have reached Kerala when a researcher accidentally released them at Palakkad in the early 1950s. Two more waves of invasion occurred in the 1970s and in 2005.
  • At present, the dangerous species is spread to all districts of Kerala except Idukki.
  • The study also found that India has a higher genetic variety of giant African snails as compared to the native African species.
  • The species of giant African snails in UAE and India have the same genetic strains. This can be contributed to the material movement between both countries.

The findings of the study were published in the biological journal of the Linnean Society.

Written by IAS POINT

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