Cortni Borgerson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, is featured in the BBC Earth “Our Planet Earth” series, which spotlights people and communities dedicating their lives to building a more sustainable world.
The video highlights Borgerson’s work in Madagascar, where climate change and human activity have led to devastating droughts and associated impacts on human health and the environment. Borgerson has been working with villagers to develop sustainable ways to farm sakondry, or “bacon bugs,” as a staple food source which can fill many of the nutritional gaps left by the famine while reducing the pressure on the shrinking forests. The sakondry are native to Madagascar and thrive in the current climate, creating a great opportunity to farm the insects and save the endangered lemur population.
When people get hungry and desperate there, they turn to the forest. Borgerson’s early studies in Madagascar showed that in some villages, 75% of animal-source foods come from forest animals, including lemurs, and that there are higher rates of malnutrition in households that hunt lemurs, indicating that lemur is a “last resort” food.
“Biodiversity conservation depends on understanding why people make the choices that they make,” says Borgerson. “Whether it’s climate change, hunting or habitat loss, all of lemur conservation depends on making people’s lives better.”