The district is bracing for a battle against giant African snails (Achatina fulica), as many places here have been served look out notice for the invasive creatures in view of the presence of snail population found in a few places.

The presence of the pest has already been reported at Muzhappilangad and Parassinikkadavu. The finding of the African snails at the Sree Narayana Park in this town a few days ago has raised concern about a major outbreak of snail infestation here.

Many places in the district have been identified as areas vulnerable to the menace and local bodies in these areas are being alerted so that they can take early steps to eradicate the intrusive snails.

A three-member team of experts from the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) at Peechi, Thrissur, is now on a visit here as part of an effort to rope in local bodies to fight against the menace in both the areas where the infestation is reported and areas identified as vulnerable to the snail invasion.

T.V. Sajeev, who is leading the team, told The Hindu that African snail population had been found at Parassinikkadavu and Muzhappilangad here last year, the infestation in the latter being the major one. In both these places, the snails had gone in to hibernation in November last year and came back in June when the rain started.

He said the snails found in the Sree Narayana Park here are a satellite infestation which could be contained easily. It was easy to counter the pest wherever its population was small, Mr. Sajeev said.

The KFRI team has convened a meeting at Muzhappilangad on August 5 to create awareness on the ways to fight the pest menace in the area. Muzhappilangad and Parassinikkadavu are among the 29 places where snail populations were found last year.

Kunjimangalam, Ramanthali, Mattool, Cherukunnu, Madayi, Kannapuram, Azhikode, Cheruthazham, Pallikunnu, Karivellur-Peralam, Ezhome, Kallyasseri, and Pappinisseri panchayats in the district have been identified as vulnerable to the pest invasion.

Neighbouring panchayats of Valiyaparamba, Thrikkaripur, Cheruvathur, and Padanna panchayats in Kasaragod have also been identified as vulnerable to the infestation.

Meanwhile, the municipal authorities here sprayed tobacco decoction and copper sulphate to eliminate the African snails found in the park here under the instruction of the KFRI experts. Municipal health officials said they would monitor the areas in view of the infestation found in the park.

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