Mopane worms, a delicacy at what cost?

Every year at this time people go into the bush to harvest the local delicacy the Mopane worm. It is then dried and later cooked as a relish. As we are now at the end of Mopane worm ‘season’ (when people collect the worms in bucket loads) we can see the devastation on the farm. Hundreds of trees carelessly cut down as cutting the trees makes it easy to get to the worms. Recently The Best of Zambia published a blog post about the Mopane worm, how to harvest, cook and enjoy it as a traditional Zambian meal. As nice and informative as the blog post was I could not help but to think about the destructive way the worms are collected. As the worm only eats leaves from the Mopani tree, thereby the name, there will obviously be fewer worms if there are less Mopane trees. And at the rate that trees are being cut every year, the question is how long people will be able to enjoy this local delicacy?

Trees cut down in the forest at the farm.Cleaning Cleaning Mopane worms (picture from The Best of Zambia).








6 thoughts on “Mopane worms, a delicacy at what cost?

  1. Thank you very much for sharing this Elina. We have always been aware of the environmental issue. People harvesting the mopane worms do have alternative ways to chopping the tree – like climbing the tree or using a ladder. It’s a question of education and environmental awareness. And by the way this is the same problem with honey harvesting.

    We would be very happy if the interest created can be used to channel and build environmental responsibility, for everyone’s sake.

    1. Absolutely! People need education, as with many issues in zed its education thats lacking. But poverty is also at the roots of this problems. Hopefully people will become more aware of the environmental issue, both the buyers and suppliers.

    1. I think the short answer to that is poverty and lack of education. These worms might be the only source of food and income (from selling them in towns).

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