The Bermuda land snail. *Photo by W. Sterrer
The Bermuda land snail. *Photo by W. Sterrer

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25: The Bermuda land snail was teetering on the brink of extinction when a colony of 56 of the tiny creatures was sent to the Zoological Society of London in February 2004.

The Lifeboat Project was a last-ditch effort to save the species that was being driven to extinction by the introduction of the predatory snail, Euglandina rosea, and Argentine ants. The conservation effort to save the snails has proved to be a success.

Within 18 months of the snails being sent to the UK, London Zoo reported that its colony had increased to 70 adults and 157 juveniles.

Plans are now afoot to begin bringing Poecilozonites circumfirmatus back to Bermuda to start the population up again.

The Poecilozonites family contains at least four species of snail, all of which are endemic to Bermuda.

At around the turn of the 20th century they were so abundant they were burnt for limestone.

Three of them, Poecilozonites bermudensis, Poecilozonites nelsoni and Poecilozonites reinianus are already extinct.

The only surviving species now is Poecilozonites circumfirmatus.

Drew Pettit, director of Conservation Services said: “A survey completed in 2012 could not find any wild population of this endemic snail in Bermuda.

“As a result the only snails we have of these species are housed at London Zoo.”

More information about the Bermuda land snail project is available from London Zoo’s website at www.zsl.org.