Snails on the plate: Edible freshwater molluscs of Northeast India
In many parts of the world, freshwater molluscs are extensively harvested for food and medicine. Northeast India is one such region where freshwater molluscs are consumed by the tribal and economically impoverished communities. These molluscs are in high demand as they are a cheap source of protein and provide food security, livelihoods and medicine. Although there are studies that show the nutritional and mineral value of snails, data on the details of harvest, the number of species consumed, and traditional knowledge associated with them are lacking. This is the first comprehensive study documenting the diversity of freshwater molluscs sold, quantity, location of harvest, associated traditional knowledge and uses among different tribal communities of Northeast India. The information was gathered through market surveys and informal interaction with the vendors selling molluscs. Eighteen species of freshwater molluscs belonging to five families and six genera were recorded from our study. DNA barcode analysis using COI marker for the market collected specimens of Paludomus and Brotia show six species each from these genera. Most edible freshwater molluscs have incorrect taxonomic status and are Data Deficient or Least Concern. Therefore, it is essential to document for their conservation and management. We also advocate snail farming for their conservation and the nutritional and food security of the tribal communities, which will help in the sustainable use of natural resources.
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