Save the lemurs! Eat the crickets!

By Matt Simon. Published on Wired.com on March 5, 2019: https://www.wired.com/story/save-the-lemurs-eat-the-crickets.

“One group of researchers and conservationists thinks it can also use edible insects to save endangered mammals. They’ve spent the past few years developing a program to encourage the people of Madagascar—who have historically consumed insects—to re-embrace bugs as a source of protein. That in turn could relieve pressure on endangered lemurs, which hunters target for bushmeat. The goal is to build facilities to raise and process crickets into a powder, which would create a reliable source of nutrition and jobs for a growing and often undernourished population, all the while saving one of the most iconic primates on Earth.” Read the full story HERE.

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The last time Charlie Welch, the DLC’s Conservation Coordinator, was in Madagascar, by complete chance he ran into ant specialist Brian Fisher of the California Academy of Sciences. Brian and his team had just come out of the forest at Marojejy National Park, where they had been on a research mission. But their main reason for being in Mada was to explore whether raising and consuming a native species of cricket could serve as a protein source for local people, replacing (or reducing) bushmeat hunting of lemurs. That work continues.

Changing the way people eat is a complex process, but in this case Brian and his team have funding support to test to see if crickets are a truly viable food alternative that people will accept. The team is working with villages in an area of northeastern Madagascar that is south of the SAVA region, and monitoring closely levels of success and the impact on local fauna (especially lemurs). We’re watching the project with interest and have discussed the possibility of trying the crickets in the SAVA (through the Duke Lemur Center‘s SAVA Conservation project) if it shows positive results. So stay tuned!