This documentary photography was submitted to Edge of Humanity Magazine by environmental photojournalist Steven Saphore.
From “Beka Ni Viti: Bats In Fiji” project by Steven Saphore.
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I am awoken by hunger pangs chiming like an alarm clock courtesy of yesterday’s long trek. Contrary to the borborygmus objections of my stomach, I remain particularly apprehensive to such a meal. Like a melanesian Gordon Ramsay of the non existent version of ‘Fiji’s MasterChef’, Silio enters the shack precariously pinching the steaming pot with banana leaves as so not to get burnt. Removing the lid, a plume of opaque steam dissipates into the morning air revealing our breakfast. Free range Beka Lulu (Samoan Flying-fox) infused with natural juices, blanched eyes and plump wings. Simmered over an open fire and served steaming. Flown in daily………………………..…$0
A common misconception suggests Flying foxes are filthy animals due to their pungent smell. However, meticulous grooming and impeccable hygiene rank them among the cleanest animals in the world. As such, “When we eat be’a [bat], nothing is left but the bones” says Qio.
With a severe lack of information concerning numbers, diets and threats of their bats, Fiji happens to be home to the rarest one in the world. Perched on the brink of extinction high above Taveuni Island’s ‘cloud forest’ lives the critically endangered, Beka Mirimiri. Arduously journeying to the remote Des-Voeux Peak in 2009, a team caught one pregnant female. It’s known population? One. Not one hundred, not one thousand… One. Single. Specimen. She is the holotype of the species and Fiji’s only native mammal. Derived from the rainy terrain she inhabits, her unique genus ‘Mirimiri Acrodonta’ is partly a Fijian translation of the word ‘Mist’. With her effigy gracing Fiji’s new 10c coin, thousands of Fijians unknowingly pocket and barter with Beka Mirimiri’s portrait on a daily basis. Unfavored by natural selection or eaten into sparsity? Irrelevant. Because, much like the change she represents, the future of this animal has fallen into our palms.
By Steven Saphore