KALAMAZOO, Mich., April 29 (UPI) -- Conservationists say a small threatened population of great apes on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon may be saved by snail farming.
The Arcus Foundation, based in Kalamazoo, Mich., has provided the money for a pilot project, USA Today reports. Eight families who live near the Cross River Park in Nigeria have been set up to grow African giant snails in cages.
About 300 gorillas and other great apes are believed to remain in Takamanda National Park in Cameroon and the surrounding area. One major threat is poaching for bush meat, either for local consumption or sale.
"These are some of the most endangered apes in Africa," James Deutsch of the Wildlife Conservation Society told the newspaper. "The people are poor and protein is hard to find, so they will eat gorillas."
Deutsch said families can make more than $400 a year by selling snails, far more than the $70 from a gorilla sold for bush meat.
"I'm told they have a soapy flavor, but that's nothing a little garlic and chili wouldn't fix," Deutsch said.