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Mammal, Primate, Ape, Proto-pygmy
Fijian cryptid, Polynesian cryptid, Melanesian cryptid
Rainforest-dwelling, Mountain-dwelling, Cave-dwelling
Omnivore, Out-of-place, Featured in Native folklore
The Vélé, also called the Veli or leka, is a proto-pygmy inhabiting the rainforests of Viti And Vanua Levu of Fiji. Vélés are one to two ft tall and are covered in long black hair, with large eyes, muscular but short bodies, and long curved hands.
The first written mention of this creature was in Scottish travel writer, Constance Gordon-Cumming’s 1882 book At Home in Fiji. She writes in her book that the highlanders of Fiji believe the Vélé to be a tribe of tiny people with “high, conical heads.” She wrote that the Highlanders feared the Vélé, claiming they would attack any trespassers with their clubs.
The most famous and well-documented Vélé sighting was in 1981 at the schoolyard of the Lautoka Methodist school, which borders the Koroyanitu rainforest. At recess, 14 kids ran up to the teachers yelling and crying about seeing “dwarves” on the other side of the fence. A teacher quickly observed a two-foot shape run into the rainforest. So they called another teacher, and the principal, to investigate. Both the students and the teachers observed three Vélés in some reeds staring back at them. This quickly gathered the attention of some locals, to look for the Vélés, fearing they could harm the children. The locals did not find them but found an unusual pit which they assumed they hid in, although they didn’t see the Vélé enter. Instead of climbing in, because it was too small, they waited at the entrance for the Vélé to leave, but they never did. It's unknown if the mysterious pit was unrelated and the Vélé never entered, or it had another exit somewhere else.
Although some reports describe the Vélé as distinctly ape-like and inhuman, many witnesses, accounts and folktales describe them as much more humanlike, with little body hair, very dark skin (darker than ethnic Fijians), large mop-like hairstyles and wear small grass skirts and nambas. This has led many to theorize the Vélé may be an uncontacted tribe, or folk memory of Negrito/Pygmy people, not an unknown primate. Very similar creatures are reported throughout the South Pacific, like the anjinmar in the Marshall Islands, the Vui in Vanuatu, the Tagata Laititi in Samoa and the menehune in Fiji. The Vélé however, seems to be one of the few who still exist