Breeders shellshocked as snail trail goes cold
Eight hundred rare giant snails – one-seventh of an entire species – have been accidentally frozen to death in New Zealand after conservation officials failed to notice that a temperature probe in a cool room was broken.
The incident is an embarrassment for New Zealand, a UN-designated biodiversity hotspot. The Powelliphanta augusta snails – carnivorous land snails which grow to the size of a fist and suck worms out of the ground – are endangered.
The casualties were part of a captive breeding programme initiated after the entire Powelliphanta population – about 6,000 snails – was moved from the Stockton Plateau, on the South Island, to make way for an open-cast coal mine. A total of 4,000 have been released in another part of the mine, while 1,600 were being kept in chiller units in a Department of Conservation facility in Hokitika. John Lyall, the regional technical support manager, said staff were devastated. But the conservation group Forest & Bird said it highlighted the folly of moving native animals from their habitat. "This tragedy was entirely avoidable," said a spokeswoman, Nicola Vallance.
The snails were supposed to be kept at 10C, but the temperature plunged to zero. The fault in the probe was not immediately picked up because it happened during a public holiday last month.
Birth of twin red pandas gives hope for future of one of the rarest - and cutest - mammals
Drug-resistant bacteria: Sewage-treatment plants described as giant 'mixing vessels' after scientists discover mutated microbes in British river
Big Butterfly Count: Members of British public turn scientists as survey gets under way
At last! How to banish snails from your garden
The top 10 weirdest animal mating rituals
- 1 Saneie Masilela, 9, marries Helen Shabangu, 53 years his senior, for the second time
- 2 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 3 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 4 Man takes most pointless Uber cab ride of all time
- 5 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...
Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...
£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...
£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire