Dominicans Urged to Help in Fight Against the Giant African Snail
Head of the Plant Protection and Quarantine Division in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Ryan Anselm, is warning Dominicans to take all necessary measures to address the threats of invasive alien species.
He said that over the past five years Dominica and the rest of the Caribbean region have experienced a number of instances of pest introduction, and invasion of alien species such as Black Sigatoka, the Citrus Greening disease and the Giant African Snail.
Mr. Anselm says they are currently doing their best to contain and eradicate the Giant African Snail, one of the invasive alien species, which originated from East Africa and was introduced to Guadelopue and Martinique in the 1980’s.
He said from since that period it was found in Barbados in the year 2000, and has spread throughout the Eastern Caribbean.
The area where the snail was found has been officially quarantined, and it is prohibited to remove plant material, soil of any material that can allow the spread of this snail.
Mr. Anselm pointed out that the snail was introduced to Dominica through a used vehicle which it was stuck under.
Through further investigation, it was revealed that the vehicle which was brought via the Port from Guadeloupe stayed in the area for some time before being removed.
The snail feeds on all plants associated with the forests including 500 commercial plants like dasheen and yam, making it very dangerous as it is the largest land snail in the world.
Through the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Quarantine Department and Extension Officers, what they have done is sensitize the general public.
Mr. Anselm says the sensitization was not limited to the residents of Dos Dane but neighbouring communities such as Portsmouth, Borne and Paix Bouche who are at an immediate risk.
One of the difficulties they face is detecting the snail at an early stage as they lay eggs in the dirt making it a hard task to control the invasive species.
Moving soil from one area to another is the way the snail can spread so this is strictly prohibited in the quarantine area.
The Quarantine Officer stated that the situation in Barbados with this snail is alarming and if not aggressively controlled in Dominica, it could also have a negative impact on our Tourism Industry, as thousands of giant snails crawling on the Bayfront leaving slime would be unsightly and hazardous.
With the adverse effects of climate change there has been a rapid introduction of new pests in the region.