Awash with a spectrum of shimmering and ghostly greens, Michele Sibiloni’s new photobook Nsenene – published by Patrick Frey Edition – follows the nighttime harvesting of long-horned grasshoppers in Uganda. These insects are a sought-after commodity and only migrate en masse twice a year, so those hoping to catch them must be ready. In towns across the country right after the rainy seasons, traps are set.
Night after night, many Ugandans stay up till dawn to catch the critters. The omnipresence of the lustrous greenish insects amid the nocturnal mist and the smoke of bonfires submerges the whole country in an otherworldly atmosphere, an eerie effect compounded by all the bizarre paraphernalia involved, especially the fancifully contrived tools and traps.
Given their high protein content, grasshoppers remain a promising source of food for the future, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which points out that if more people were to add edible insects to their diet, that could reduce world hunger and improve food security. However, deforestation has decimated migratory insect populations in recent years and some cricket species are now critically endangered.
To make matters worse, the rains in Africa are becoming less and less predictable due to climate change, and cricket-harvesting depends entirely on timing. Italian photographer Michele Sibiloni has captured the Ugandan cricket-harvest, an activity that straddles the very fine line between past and future, tradition and modernization.