Thousands of Extinct-in-the-Wild tropical tree snails bred at British conservation zoos have been flown more than 15,000km, accompanied by a Whipsnade Zookeeper - to be reintroduced to their French Polynesian island home.
Eight species of Partula snail, totalling 2,194, were bred at Whipsnade Zoo, London Zoo, Edinburgh Zoo and Bristol Zoo Project, as part of the collaborative Partula Snail Conservation Programme - coordinated by international conservation charity ZSL and French Polynesia’s Direction de l'environnement. Many of these species were wiped out in the wild, 30 years ago.
Whipsnade invertebrate specialist Tyrone Capel, who helped rear the tiny snails at ZSL’s conservation zoos, arrived on the island on Monday 4 September and has already released hundreds of the fingernail-sized animals onto the volcanic island of Moorea.
Since 2015, conservationists have reintroduced more than 24,000 Partula snails onto the French Polynesian islands, with each year’s release painted with a dot of a different coloured glow-in-the-dark animal-friendly ‘snail varnish’ - so that their individual progress can be monitored with the help of a UV torch light.
“As the sun started to set, we could see this year’s bright blue snail polish starting to glow in the trees above,” added Tyrone.
More than 550 remaining snails will be introduced to their new homes on the neighbouring islands of Huahine, and Tahiti over the next week. Alongside releasing the new snails, Tyrone will conduct night surveys alongside French Polynesian Environmental Department colleagues to track past breeding programmes outcomes.
Posted On: 15/09/2023