Pacific Tree Snails Conservation Programme
© Paul Pearce-Kelly
To breed and reintroduce Pacific tree snails into their former range in French Polynesia
There are 123 known species of Pacific tree snail (Partula spp.) that have colonized many of the tropical South Pacific islands. Their range extends nearly 5,000 miles from Palau to the Society Islands.The Society Islands where speciation has exploded support over 50% of the known species. As of today, 50 species have become extinct, 18 are critically endangered and 7 endangered.
The biggest threat to the survival of Pacific tree snails is the introduction of the carnivorous Florida rosy wolf predatory snail (Euglandina rosea) to the South Pacific islands. These carnivorous snails have often been introduced in order to curb populations of the giant African snail, Achatina fulica, a species that was either accidentally or intentionally introduced to the islands, causing damage to the banana plantations. The carnivorous snails often prey instead on the smaller native Partula snails and are rapidly exterminating them. Human encroachment is also reducing the forested habitat used by the partula snails.
Five species of Pacific tree snails are kept by zoos. Under the umbrella of WAZA an international studbook is kept by the Zoological Society of London. 13 institutions in Europe and North America participate in coordinated ex situ breeding programmes, and three species were already released on Moorea in 1994 and 1995 into a trial reserve from which carnivore snails had been expelled. Programme member institutions have provided funding, staff and equipment for extensive field surveys and the construction of predator exclusion reserves and associated monitoring. Tthey also provided the funding and staff necessary to produce the species status evaluation reports for IUCN and technical briefing documents for the French Polynesian Government.
WAZA Conservation Project 06015 is implemented by the Zoological Society of London, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Martin Mere Wildfowl Trust, Edinburgh Zoo, Bristol Zoo, Chester Zoo, Thoiry Zoo, Riga Zoo, Poznan Zoo, St. Louis Zoo, Atlanta Zoo, Detroit Zoo, Woodland Park Zoo and the Virginia University.
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© Paul Pearce-Kelly