Caterpillars are part of the traditional human diet in many regions of Africa. In the Congo Central Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the caterpillars of some species are even considered a delicacy and are highly valued for their nutritional and cultural importance. Since the 1980s, the traditional knowledge has been systematically investigated in a collaboration between the Salvation Army and local people. Life histories of the species were studied in the wild and in the laboratory as well as techniques for mass rearing of the insects developed. During the same period, edible caterpillars became no longer fully available in the wild due to their unsustainable use.
Augustin Konda Ku Mbuta and Daniel Ambuehl compiled the comprehensive knowledge and experience gathered during the Salvation Army project. Instead of the unsustainable collection of wild stocks, breeding of selected species was started and documented. The knowledge raised was then brought from laboratories and science centres, back to the villages. These biological and social experiences are described in the book, together with comprehensive information on the ecology, life stages and phenology of 17 Lepidoptera species as well as the most important 20 tree species used as larval food plants.
Following the principle of sustainability, the Salvation Army project also focused on the protection of forests, reforestation by rearing and planting native trees, pointing to demographic problems and human conflicts as well as pollution of the environment. The goal is not to protect nature by excluding humans, but rather to support nature and the sustainable use of non-wood products from forests and fisheries.
Cheniculture et reforestation is a compendium of decades-long experience in rural Africa. It is a proof of a success that cannot be taken for granted and has the character of a role model.
The book is available for download at: https://www.skyfood.ch/cheniculture/Cheniculture35dpi.pdf