The inspiration behind Sascha Akhtar's story in our upcoming anthology 'Of Myths and Mothers'
Sascha Akhtar's short story, 'The Last of the Nest-Gatherers' is one of five featured in our upcoming anthology, 'Of Myths and Mothers'. 'The Last of the Nest-Gatherers' is a story directly influenced by the multigenerational practice of nest gathering.
Nest gathering is an act undertaken by those living on the islands of Pabellon in the Phillipines. Those that participate are known as nest gatherers, or as "busyadores".
The practice of nest gathering itself refers to the dangerous collection of the nests of the bird Aerodramus fuciphagus. In Sascha's story, these birds are known as Balinsasayaw.
It's dangerous as these nests are often positioned precariously a thousand feet in the air, on the face of a rocky cliff.
It's seen as being worth it because the saliva of these birds, which is used to hold the nests together, is among the most expensive human-consumed animal produce. On Pabellon alone, nests of high quality can be sold for roughly PHP 180,000 per kilo - that's around £2,792.
The birds' nests are used as ingredients within many dishes; the most notable of these is probably the Chinese delicacy, "bird’s nest soup". In 'The Last of the Nest-Gatherers', the benefits offered by the Balinsasayaw's saliva are akin to healing powers.
Sascha's story is a cautionary tale of human greed at the cost of the natural world around us. You can read 'The Last of the Nest-Gatherers', as well as the other 4 incredible stories in 'Of Myths and Mothers' when the anthology is released on Friday 25th of March 2022.