Say hello to Ball’s Pyramid. This is what this desolate island which looks like a setting from a dystopian novel is called. Ball’s Pyramid is all that is left of an old volcano that emerged from the sea about 7 million years ago in the South Pacific.
It is terribly narrow and very high, and it’s very lonely except for a small bunch of trees and…. these guys:
Now, to all you insectophobes (I know that is not a word), I apologize and sympathize; I am myself disgusted by most insects, but you know that feeling when you’re super horrified but also, kind of fascinated?
This is the case of myself and these amazing giant insects, that apparently also poop in grand scale, something I find hilarious for some reason. Anyway, moving on.
Dryococelus australis, is its name and it was largely believed extinct, until a pair of, let me tell you, pretty amazing people discovered a population of 24 living in this solitary push on one of the steepest peaks in the world. These people literally went around chasing rumors, just for the sake or reviving a very old, and until very recently, supposedly very extinct species.
And even when they brought them back to breed and create a stable number, they persevered with these strange creatures, who reach up to a size larger than an adult male’s hand, and used to be called “walking sticks” by natives.
So they brought a pair of these “sticks” to the Melbourne Zoo, where they nicknamed the pair Adam and Eve (adorably enough). Everything was going well, until Eve got sick.
According to biologist Jane Goodall, writing for Discover Magazine:
“Eve became very, very sick. Patrick … worked every night for a month desperately trying to cure her. … Eventually, based on gut instinct, Patrick concocted a mixture that included calcium and nectar and fed it to his patient, drop by drop, as she lay curled up in his hand.”
Human of me as it very well may be, this was the point when this article that I discovered wasn’t even about the sticks anymore. It was about the people.
It’s very hard to discover people who would risk so much of themselves, who would devote their compassion and even, dare I say it, love, to a pair of giant insects. It’s rather anti-conformist, since we live in a world where pest population and a general adversity towards insects is pretty much the status quo.
We are a squeamish species; we find a lot of things that actually belong right where they are downright abhorrent. So we often take it upon ourselves to make such things right. What we don’t realize is that by making them right, we do another being wrong. Maybe these are disgusting giant insects, but god damn, they are kind of cool, and super old. So why not?
To realize that there are people in the world who would drop-feed an insect for hours, an insect that was so reviled, people brought in special animals to force it into extinction; that is truly inspiring. Imagine the happiest moment of your work to be the saving of a species. What a remarkable feat that would be.
Written by Martina Hysi
Edited by Maria Tirnovanu
Copy edited by Emily Perotti