An amazing mollusk: the Giant African Land Snail, revered totem of the Chauke Clan…

I love sketching the shells of these snails, so sculptural….

Version 2

Achatina fulica is a species of land snail in the family Achatinidae, known commonly as the  giant African land snail.

snail

Wikipedia says:

Outside of its native range this snail thrives in many types of habitat in areas with mild climates. It feeds voraciously and is a vector for plant pathogens, causing severe damage to agricultural crops and native plants. It competes with native snail taxa, is a nuisance pest of urban areas, and spreads human disease. This snail is listed as one of the top 100 invasive species in the world!!! Native to East Africa, it has been widely introduced to other parts of the world through the pet trade, as a food resource, and by accidental introduction.

Achatina fulica shell

Achatina fulica shell

 

I have a very different view of this beauty, an artist’s and naturalist’s view, seen here photographed by me at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, in its home range- in the lowveld of Zimbabwe, where it fits so aptly into its environment…

this fabulous creature has a persian carpet mantle……

gorgeous texture

gorgeous texture

a quizzically stunning face….

Stunning face...

Stunning face…

a glowing multi-hued shell…..

gorgeous snail by Andre Botha

gorgeous snail -Photograph by Andre Botha

and a rich history in the folklore and current clan beliefs of the Chauke Changana clan in our area. (Check out my next blog for THAT lovely story!)

Meanwhile, thinking sex (why not!), here is my awesome photo of two snails mating , taken on the footpath at Chilo on a rainy day….

mating snails, photo by Lin Barrie

mating snails, photo by Lin Barrie

 

This species is a simultaneous hermaphrodite; each individual has both testes and ovaries and is capable of producing both sperm and ova. (Instances of self-fertilization are rare, occurring only in small populations). They have intriguing mating behaviour, including petting their heads and front parts against each other. Cute! Courtship can last up to half an hour, and the actual transfer of gametes can last for two hours.

I watched these two for over an hour, and after mating these two just crawled away…

after the courtship..

after the courtship..

 

Transferred sperm can be stored within the body for up to two years. The number of eggs per clutch averages around 200. A snail may lay five to six clutches per year with a hatching viability of about 90%.

hatching snails...

hatching snails…

Juvenile snails are tiny, easy and tasty prey for any bigger animals…

tiny achatina......

tiny achatina……

 

If they are lucky, dult size is reached in about six months, after which growth slows, but does not cease until death. Life expectancy is commonly five or six years in captivity, but the snails can live for up to ten years.

adult snail and baby

adult snail and baby

The giant African snail is capable of aestivating for up to three years in times of extreme drought, sealing itself into its shell by secretion of a calcerous compound that dries on contact with the air.

They are active at night and spend the day buried underground.

Is snail slime the next big thing in skincare? ….please don’t tell me that collagen-enhancing mucus is set to be a super-ingredient in mainstream cosmetics……they say the mucus is extracted and the snails live to tell the tale, but I hear it involves salt…hmmmmm.

And the latest facial massage in Russia is delivered by giant snails…

facial snail trail....

facial snail trail….

And of course, as much as Achinata likes to consume precious crops…

strawberry eater

it is also considered deliciously edible by various people…

devilled snail...

devilled snail…

Except by the local Xangana people, amongst whom the snail is honoured.

The Chauke Clan rever the Giant snail as their clan “totem”….never to be harmed.

 

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About wineandwilddogs

Lin Barrie The Save Valley Conservancy stretches along the upper reaches of the great Save River in the south east of Zimbabwe. The Gonarezhou National Park laps against the southern banks of the Save River and between these two nestles the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. These three celebrated wildlife areas form part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, (GLTFCA)- a unique wilderness jewel which is home to the “Big Five” (endangered Black and White rhinos, elephants, buffalo, lion, leopard) and the ”Little Six” (Klipspringer, Suni, Duiker, Steenbok, Sharpe's Grysbok and Oribi). Endangered African wild dogs, Cheetah, Brown hyena, Bat-eared foxes and a host of special birds and plants contribute to the immense variety of this ecosystem. Communities around the GLTFCA contribute to innovative partnerships with National Parks and the private sector, forming a sound base on which to manage social, economic and environmental issues. This is home to artist and writer Lin Barrie and her life partner, conservationist Clive Stockil. Expressing her hopes, fears and love for this special ecosystem with oil paints on canvas, Lin Barrie believes that the essence of a landscape, person or animal, can only truly be captured by direct observation. Lin Barrie states: “Through my art, and my writing, I feel an intimate connection with the natural world, and from my extensive field sketches of wild animals, people and landscapes, I create larger works on canvas. Lin's work is in various public and private collections in South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Australia, England, Canada, Sweden and the United States of America. She is represented by galleries in South Africa, Zimbabwe, England, Kenya and Florida, USA.
This entry was posted in adventure travel, Africa, African child, African flora, African Safari, african wildlife, art, art exhibition, baobab, beauty, bio diversity, bush camps, Chilo Gorge, Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, conservation, conservation education, cooking, culture, eco-tourism, edible plant, fire, flowers, food, food culture, gardens, gardens and flowers, gonarezhou national park, great limpopo transfrontier conservation Area, Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, landscape, Lin Barrie Art, Machangana culture, molluscs, mozambique, photography, Rivers, Save River, Save Valley Conservancy, slow food, wetlands, wilderness, wildlife trade, zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Parks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to An amazing mollusk: the Giant African Land Snail, revered totem of the Chauke Clan…

  1. Pingback: Of Giant Snails and Tradition; Fire and Totems…. | wineandwilddogs

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