Reaction Le Roux to All these "sales" lately

Ernst.Neering at STAFF.TPE.WAU.NL Ernst.Neering at STAFF.TPE.WAU.NL
Fri May 1 15:23:58 EDT 1998

Dear Leps-Listers and especially Pierre le Roux,

On Wednesday, April 29, 1998, Pierre le Roux <arbor at> wrote 
about my reaction to Doug Yanegas posting:

>Here in Africa, apart from safari's in gameparks, people pay to come 
>hunting game on farms set aside for just that. I, for one, can't see 
>why people that want to hunt insects should not be allowed to pay for 
>the pleasure on the same basis.

If you go out hunting to have some meat for your own consumption or if 
elephant have to be culled in order to survive as a healthy population 
because their territory has been made too small by human encroachment, I can 
understand although I do not agree completely.
If you go out to shoot lion, rhino or other animals just for the sake of 
having its head on your livingroom wall it is primitive and unconsiderate, 
showing lack of respect for life and should not be allowed, even if you pay 
for it, even if it is offered by private persons on their own grounds. It is 
unacceptable to me! It is a result of stories told by early explorers that 
some people think they are brave when they kill those wild ferroceous animals 
before they can kill the hunter. Do they think all animals are out there just 
waiting to attack and kill men? Looking at documentaries from Zimbabwe about 
armed gamewardens who have a talk and a smoke while leaning against the 
flanks of the rhino they are protecting shows modern people how dangerous 
those are. Since the Tsavo lions there is not much heard about man eating 
lion anymore. Everybody knows about the sake of the gentle giant, the 
mountain gorilla, yet this species was model to King Kong. "Cet animal est 
tres mechant, quand on l'attaque il se defant".
By the way, why should we be allowed to pay for catching insects. As a 
plantprotectionist I am BEING paid to 'manage' insect pest populations, but 
my targets have only very rarely been butterflies as only very few 
Rhopalocera (blues, whites) are considered to be pests...

>Just because a garment pleases you should not preclude insect mounts 
>of exquisite butterflies and moths from also gracing your home. 
>Although some people find it garish, it is to my mind more appealing 
>to have a nicely mounted butterfly on display for all to admire at 
>close range, rather than it just forming part of a foodchain in 
>nature. If this particular butterfly is in perfect condition  because 
>it was raised and not wild caught, so much the better. 

Those who hang mounted insects as an ornament in their house will soon find 
out that a preserved butterfly, exposed to sunlight, fades to such extend 
that it becomes useless as an ornament. Insect collections should be kept in 
the dark, only to be exposed very shortly: for showing off to visitors or for 
studying their morphology. Take a picture and hang that on your wall. If it 
is taken in nature, for instance feeding on flowers, drinking at mudpools 
etc., it is much more educative!

>It must be accepted that many people would never be able to travel 
>the world, and have first hand "primary experiences" of netting  
>dreamt-about tropical beauties. In these instances, I feel it is 
>justified that they do pay for the (preferably bred) examples that 
>they do obtain, to display and drool over.

Those who buy preserved bred butterfly specimen in the orchid gardens of 
Thailand and other places in the tropics already made the trip to that part 
of the world. If you can not go, buy a book, if you want to see real specimen 
go to a museum. So many different kinds of books are for sale now. I have one 
about the butterflies of Zambia and know there are about South Africa, even 
on Krugerpark specifically.
I have more satisfaction in finding out about the ecology and biology of a 
species than in catching it. However I do catch insects but only to be able 
to have an identification linked to the other information about the specimen.
I disagree about displaying and drooling over a specimen.

>> Last year there was a remark on this list about the enormous masses of 
>> mopane caterpillars sold in markets in southern Africa.

>I'm at present, with the assistance of one of the local universities, 
>trying to obtain Government funding, in order to study the potential 
>of raising the mopane worm (Larvae of Imbrasia belina, a Saturnid) on 
>a commercial basis. It is estimated that about 20,000 billion larvae 
>are consumed annualy as food.  

Good! Collecting in the wild has been common practise for long. Is the 
population threatened?

>> Especially in areas where the diet is poor in fat (yes indeed, there
>> are such areas in the world) insects are a wellcome addition to the
>> diet. In the Ituri forest (Congo) the indigenous population in some
>> months relies completely on insects for their protein and fat supply.
>> Similar observations are known from original populations in Australia,
>> Papua New Guinea / Irian Jaya and more in general in rainforest areas
>> around the world.

>As part of the anual "Yebo gogga" week, held at the Johannesburg Zoo 
>( Basically a display/fair in the Zoological gardens to stimulate 
>interest in invertebrate animals), an insect luncheon is offered, 
>where you can try delicacies such as fried grasshoppers (dipped in 
>chocolate sauce, if you prefer), mopane worm crunchies, etc.  

Same last week in Wageningen University in a manifestation called Wageningen 
Kennisdagen (days of knowledge), but fried on a sandwich. The locusts came 
from the insect rearing unit of the university.

>> Can anybody help me with slides showing cans containing insects which
>> are considered a delicacy? I know there is (or was) export from
>> Thailand, Mexico and Japan into USA and other areas where people
>> from these countries migrated to....

>I very much doubt that these types of delicacies will appeal to the 
>modern-day immigrants to the Western world. Several of the local 
>Africans complain of terrible stomach cramps after eating dried 
>larvae. Apparently it is something you need to grow accustomed to. I 
>recall a similar report by a Belgian in the former Congo who lived 
>briefly with pygmies, and ate their standard fare of caterpillars, 
>for lack of other protein. I must state that another study is under 
>way, to determine the importance of insects in supplying essential 
>fats & aminoacids in diets otherwise deficient, in particular in the 
>African Subtropics.

Re the first statement, let modern-day immigrants decide whether they want 
their delicacies delivered to them. If they do not buy them, the export will 
stop, consumption in the country of origin will continue.
Re the second: terrible stomach cramps are not an issue related to dried 
catterpillars only. The way they are preserved and their high protein content 
make them good media for mycotoxin producing fungi and bacteria. Anybody 
knows that foodpoisoning can occur everywhere in the world. You may build up 
some resistance but I fail to see it is apparent that you should grow 
accustomed to it. Watch out what you eat!

That's all for now. I look forward to more reactions and views of other 
people on these issues.

Ernst Neering

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