An investigation of factors influencing the abundance of edible caterpillars in Kopa's chiefdom, Mpika District, Zambia
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The sale of edible caterpillars of two species, Gynanisa maja (Klug) and Gonimbrasia belina Westwood is the main economic activity through which the majority of the households in chief Kopa's chiefdom earn income. Even though edible caterpillars have been harvested every year in the chiefdom, the annual abundance has been fluctuating,such that the quantities of the harvests vary. The study therefore focused on finding out the factors that influence the variations in the yearly edible caterpillar abundance since a reduction in the abundance means less harvest for the households, resulting in less income through the sale of the edible caterpillars and in turn reduced access to goods and services.The study used primary data. The primary sources of data included in-person interviews and focus group discussions. In the in-person interview the 100 respondents sampled, based on accessibility and availability in the sample areas of the chiefdom, were interviewed using an interview schedule with open ended questions. Single-sexed focus group discussions were held with each group constituting 12 participants and a checklist of semi-structured questions was used to guide the discussions. To verify some of the claims from the two sources of data, a discussion was held with the District Forestry Officer.Edible caterpillars show periodicity in abundance in which there is a definite pattern of peak abundance. Beside entomological factors yet to be investigated, the abundance seems to be influenced by both chitemene cultivation land use and climatic factors.Chitemene appears to influence the abundance of edible caterpillars by facilitating the rapid re-growth of desirable tree species on which caterpillars feed following woodland clearing. Three climatic factors, namely temperature, rainfall and wind speed seem to influence the abundance of Gynanisa maja and Gonimbrasia belina by impacting on the egg, larva and pupa stages. Therefore, climatic factors and land use have an influence on the abundance of Gynanisa maja and Gonimbrasia belina.
SubjectZambia -- Population.
- Natural Sciences