The Partula snail is a small snail species endemic to the French Polynesian Islands. This means they are found nowhere else in the world. At one stage 60 species of Partula snail existed on a cluster of islands known as the Society Islands. Now over 90% of these species are extinct and the remaining species are critically endangered.
Edge of Extinction
The devastating extinction of the Partula snail was mainly due to the introduction of the Rosy Wolf Snail in the 1970’s. The Rosy Wolf Snail is a carnivorous species and was released as a biological control to eat the Giant African Land Snails that where decimating crops. However, the Rosy Wolf Snail was not particular about its food source and would track down and eat any other snail!
More recently it has been discovered that another invasive species, the New Guinea flatworm is also contributing to the extinction of the Partula snail.
Why are Partula snails important?
The Partula snail is an important part of the local ecosystem. They generally consume dead or decaying matter, helping to keep the habitat clean and recycle important nutrients for plants. The snails are also a food source for the birds species. A number of bird species are also now in decline.
What’s the plan?
In 1986, the International Partula Breeding Programme was created with the aim of securing a future for this critically endangered species through captive breeding programmes and reintroductions into the wild.
The International Partula Breeding Programme also conducts research on the islands to assess the threat level from invasive predators, search for suitable release sites and work with local government and communities to raise the profile of the species to help secure a future for Partula.
There are 16 collections worldwide that support the captive breeding programme, led by Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
There are 11 species and four sub-species of Partula snail held across all the collections involved in the programme. Since 2015 over 10,000 Partula snails from the captive breeding programme have been reintroduced to Polynesia.
Wild Discovery has joined the International Partula Breeding Programme. Our efforts will focus on breeding Partula varia.
Partula varia is now extinct in the wild, and only exists in captivity, due to the efforts of the International Partula Breeding Programme.
The young that are bred and reared here at Wild Discovery will be selected for reintroduction back into the Polynesian Islands.
How can you help?
Spread the word about this species and the extinction crisis that it is facing. More people that know the reasons why the species is facing extinction the more we can do to help save the species.
Buy one of our #wildconservation wristbands from the gift shop, 100% of the proceeds go directly to the conservation projects.
Or make a small donation you can pop some spare change in the conservation projects box situated in the Gift Shop. For larger donations please contact the Zoo Director at email@example.com.
For more information about the International Breeding Programme please visit www.zsl.org/conservation/regions/oceania/partula-snail-conservation-programme