Giant African snail farms are being considered as a solution to curb down the bushmeat trade that continuously decimate the gorilla population at the border of Nigeria and Cameroon.
What people need is an easy source of protein that will discourage them from pursuing the illegal trade of primate meat.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has been working closely with the Nigerian government to do just that - give local population access to a sustainable source of protein.
The International Development Research Centre has led research projects in Nigeria since the late 1990s in order to combat malnutrition in a population deprived of the bare necessities and for whom dairy products are not commonly available. Their findings concluded that the giant African snail was a natural local resource that would address population needs through systematic farming.
Nutrition experts say that giant African snails are made of 15% protein, 2.4% fat and 80% water. They are also very rich in iron as well as calcium, magnesium and vitamin A, which makes them a very healthy choice, if not the tastiest.
Farming is achieved through the rearing of snails in used tires and cement block enclosures with about 100 snails per square meter. Snails are usually fed fresh papaya and cassava leaves.
Snail farming could also prove to be more lucrative than bushmeat and thereby help save the endangered gorillas living in Nigeria. "Cross-River gorillas depend on law enforcement and conservation efforts to survive" says Andrew Dunn, WCS's Nigeria country Director.
Now, if you feel so inclined, you could try the recipe published in The Guardian newspaper culinary blog and let me know how that was.
For more information, read the following:
Bushmeat poachers learn snail farming - United Press International article published on April 29, 2010.
Snails Save the Day - Wildlife Conservation Society