GIANT AFRICAN SNAILS INVADE SOLOMONS CROPS

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By Jeremy Infiri

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Sept. 4) – A farmer in the Foxwood area on the Solomon Islands’ Guadalcanal plains could not believe his eyes when he discovered a multitude of Giant African Snails feasting on his crops yesterday.

George Tango said he was stunned when he went to his food garden and saw the snails all over his crops.

"I was absolutely stunned. I’ve never seen these sorts of snails before.

"They were all over the place - eating away my crops," Tango told the Solomon Star yesterday.

He said he was able to destroy as many snails that he could lay his hands on.

However, Tango said he knew many are still out there hiding.

Giant African Snail is a snail that lives in a large shiny conical shell with darker bands running across the spiral. They are usually around seven centimetres in size, but can reach 20cm.

These snails are active mainly at night. During the day, they shelter from the tropical sun under stones or leaves. Those that do not find shelter before sunrise overheat and die.

The pest was believed to have been introduced in Solomon Islands by logging companies that brought in machineries previously used in other countries.

Mr Tango’s discovery was one of many sightings of the African snail in recent weeks.

According to the Quarantine Department’s Director for Surveillance Unit Francis Chacha, similar sightings have been reported to his office in recent weeks.

Mr Chacha told the Solomon Star that his officers would be taking every necessary step to eradicate the snail, which is mostly sighted in and around the outskirts of Honiara.

Mr Chacha said he wanted the public to report any sightings of the snail so that his officers could move in to destroy them.

"We will respond to every call and visit areas where the snails are discovered," he said.

He added that in the last two years, the population of the Giant African Snail in the country had reduced sharply.

However, he said with increased sightings on the snails, it shows the pest is populating again in the country.

Mr Chacha said they normally destroyed the snails by luring them with baits placed in areas where the pests are sighted.

"It would be very helpful if every sighting is reported to us," Mr Chacha said.

"In that way, we can destroy this pest before it destroys our food and land."

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