23 December 2010
South Africa’s Kruger National Park has launched a pilot project allowing local community members to harvest mopani worms in a closely monitored, sustainable way.
For a period of two weeks until 28 December, 60 community members from the Nxanatseni region, between Punda Maria and Phalaborwa, will be given permits to harvest worms for their own consumption in the world-famous game reserve.
“With high unemployment levels in the rural communities outside the park around the harvesting area, we want to contribute positively towards the well-being and livelihoods of some of those families, especially during Christmas time,” said Kruger Park spokesman William Mabasa.
“Mopani worms are a great source of protein, and most people in Limpopo [province] eat them,” Mabasa added.
He said the pilot project would be monitored closely to assess its impact and prevent over-harvesting.
“Scientists will monitor the ecological, social and economic impact of the harvesting process before, during and after the project has taken place to ensure that it does not negatively affect the ecosystem.”
Mabasa said the harvesters would be divided into six groups of 10 people each, each group being accompanied to the harvesting zone by a ranger and guide to protect them against attacks from animals.