Native Hawaiian Snail, Not!

Update 9/19/09: The Discovery Channel website has since updated their Native Hawaiian Snail picture with an actual Achatinella photo. While researching news items for Bytemarks Cafe I came across this story on the Discovery website about rats devastating the Native Hawaiian snail population. Interesting story but I was taken aback by this photo supposedly depicting one of our native snail species. African Snail The snail in the photo is of the specie: Achatina fulica originally from East Africa, now common in Hawaii. These varieties can grow quite large and can quickly devour a home garden. The adult female carries hundreds of eggs allowing it to proliferate in Hawaii's tropical climate. During the wet winter season is when the African snail populations explode. Rats and African snails have coexisted in Hawaii for many generations and I don't detect any decrease in these snail populations due to rats. On the other hand the Native Hawaiian tree snails or Achatinella live exclusively in the native forests primarily feeding on a native fungus living on the leaves of the ohia or kopiko. This specialized diet keeps the Achatinella inexorably linked to the native forest. It takes about 7 years to reach reproductive maturity. At this point they will bear one keiki (baby) snail per year. Without any natural predators the Achatinella never adapted mechanisms against external threats as devastating as rats. I did contact the Discovery.com web team (via email) to point out their error. I got this message in reply from Viewer-Relations:
"We sincerely appreciate you taking the time to write us and for bringing this matter to our attention.  Please know that we will take your comments under advisement."
As you can see the site has yet to be corrected. Of course I do this with the hope that accurate information about Hawaii is portrayed, especially as it pertains to our people, places and native ecosystem. Here's to hoping it gets fixed soon.