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Perception and knowledge of grasshoppers among indigenous communities in tropical forest areas of southern Cameroon: Ecosystem conservation, food security, and health

Charly Oumarou Ngoute, ,
Published: 27 August 2021

Abstract: The increased attention given to health, food security, and biodiversity conservation in recent years should bring together conventional scientists and indigenous people to share their knowledge systems for better results. This work aims to assess how grasshoppers are perceived by the local people in southern Cameroon, particularly in terms of food, health, and landscape conservation. Villagers were interviewed individually using a rapid rural assessment method in the form of a semi-structured survey. Nearly all people (99%) declared that they are able to identify local grasshoppers, generally through the color of the insect (80%). Crop fields were the most often cited landscape (16%) in terms of abundance of grasshoppers, with forest being less mentioned (8%). In general, villagers claimed that grasshopper abundance increased with forest degradation. Grasshoppers were found during all seasons of the year but noted to be more abundant during the long dry seasons. People found grasshoppers both useful and harmful, the most harmful reported being Zonocerus variegatus, an important crop pest. Cassava is the most attacked crop with 75–100% losses. Industrial crops, such as cocoa, coffee, and bananas, were not cited as being damaged by grasshoppers. The most effective conventional method cited for the control of pest grasshoppers is the use of pesticides (53%) with, in most cases (27%), a 75–100% efficiency. The traditional method of spreading ash was also often cited (19%), with an estimated efficiency of 25–75%. Biological methods were neither cited nor used by the villagers. Most of them (87%) declared that they eat grasshoppers; some sold these insects in the market (58%) and some used them to treat diseases (11%).
Keywords: food security / grasshoppers / villagers / abundance / harmful / pest / Cameroon / indigenous / conservation / survey

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