2. Utilization of the african giant land snail in the humid area of nigeria.
Trop. Agric. (Trinidad), 69, 1, 1992, pp. 88-92
This paper examined the utilization of the giant land snail among the people of Ondo State in Nigeria. The study was carried out in ten of the 17 local government areas in Ondo State of Nigeria.
A questionnaire was used to obtain data on the pattern of utilization of this animal.
The climate is tropical with two distinct seasons, the wet season and a dry season. The vegetation of Ondo State ranges from mangrove swamp at the coast to derived savanna towards the northern boundary.
The African giant land snail is the largest among the terrestrial Gastropoda living in Africa. This snail species is found mostly in the high forest zone. A mature adult weights approximately 750 g and the foot, which constitutes the edible part, is about 30% of the live weight.
Snail meat is highly relished and considered a delicacy for the peasant population living in the rural area of the forest zone of West Africa, especially in Nigeria and Ghana. Apart from its nutritive value, it is also used in traditional medicine.
The results indicate that snails are used primarily as meat by the rural and urban people. This may be due to a downward trend in the economy of the nation which places frozen fish and chicken out of reach of the common citizen, so that wild animals are the primary source of protein.
Although some groups of people have taboo, religious and other reasons for not eating snails, the numbers are quite insignificant when compared with those who relish snail meat and consider it to be a delicacy.
Alternative uses for giant land snails do exist. The land snails are very important in traditional medicine throughout the areas. Various parts of this animal are utilized in preparing medicine for curing numerous ailments. When mixed with other ingredients, the fluid from giant land snails cured headache and malaria. This fluid also improved blood clotting on a fresh wound. The shells of giant land snails when smoked/burnt to a colourless condition are ground and mixed with other ingredients in preparing a medicine for pregnant women during labour and as fertility drug for women experiencing difficulty with conception.
The importance of giant land snails is also reflected in cultural values. Snails are one of the ingredients used in making a sacrifice to Ogun (the god of iron).
Snail shells, which are regarded as the trophy of the animal, are used as decorative objects, especially when painted with different colours.
Some rural people also store traditional medicine in giant land snail shells and some make use of the shells as an abrasive for washing utensils and brushing teeth.
Snails also provide employment for some people in the rural area. Owing to a high demand for this animal, some of the rural dwellers are now full-time or part-time gatherers of snails.
These results revealed that the snails were important not only as a source of animal protein to the population but also an important ingredient in their traditional medicine.
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