Martina Panisi / Forest Giants / Italy / São Tomé and Príncipe / Biodiversity conservation / Environmental protection

Martina Panisi

Raising awareness about the preservation of native biodiversity by protecting the Obô giant snail.

Environmental biologist Martina launched a conservation centre for the endangered Obô giant snail on the small archipelago of São Tomé and Príncipe. By preserving this endemic species, the young woman hopes to raise public awareness about the consequences of deforestation and encourage everyone to play their part in protecting native biodiversity.

It was during her studies in conservation biology that Martina discovered the existence of the giant snail native to the Obô natural park, an oasis of biodiversity that spans a large part of the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, in central Africa. Having fallen prey to deforestation, overexploitation and the proliferation of invasive species, the Obô giant snail is now endangered. To stem its rapid decline, Martina embarked on extensive field work to engage with local communities and understand the threats facing this species.

A symbol of the natural world under threat

Along with her team, she decided to set up the Forest Giants project in 2017 to preserve these animals, but also to discover and list other unknown species. As the project’s flagship initiative, the preservation of the Obô giant snail helps build broader awareness of the importance of protecting the native forest.

Engaging indigenous communities

Fostering public involvement, particularly at a local level, is key to securing the project’s longevity. To achieve this, educational programmes have been set up in around twenty primary schools in the region, training is provided to teachers and eco-guides, and guided tours are organised for tourists visiting this haven of biodiversity.

More information on Martina’s project:

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