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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

ANOTHER HONG KONG MYSTERY ANIMAL

As you may know, Richard Muirhead and I have been working on a project on the mystery animals of Hong Kong for many years. He recently sent me this posting from the Hong Kong Outdoors forum:

Returned to Sam A. Wan for an overnight this weekend. I wanted more time to explore the coves, snorkel, and dry off. I was also interested in the nightlife, having previously seen a mongoose here, and many guidebooks mentioning this as the best area for mammals. Stayed at the campsite till an approaching (but never arriving) thunderstorm sent me scurrying to the ferry pier pagoda at about 2130hrs. The nightwalk was fun, seeing two snakes but not even hearing anything else.

A small rat-snake slithered across in front, and a 2.5ft bamboo pit viper who loved the concrete at the pagoda. Took a good hour to get him to leave. I wanted him to make his own way off, but really needed to settle down and take my eyes off him. So he was coaxed away. He liked that pagoda and circled around, came back, and bit my walking stick 5 times before he eventually made off permanently through the grass. It broke my heart but I just couldn't have him around when I was going to hammock-up there all night. Now for the strange part... I'll start by saying I have seen, both up close and distant, many wild boar. And it was a full and bright moon, which provided a lovely reflective glass view of the bay and mountains.

Upon arriving at the pier, a pale (in the moonlight) sheep-sized creature ran off the stony mangrove beach whilst grunting, huffing and growling at me. Size- and shape-wise it didn't seem like a wild boar, nor did it sound like one, and too fat for a muntjac. The paleness also confused me. I hoped it would come back, and put it behind me as it was impossible to identify. I set up the hammock (apologies to the villager whose rope I used, I forgot to put it back next morning, but it would have been very easy to find), so as to get a view of the surroundings.

A bull ambled past. Got the binoculars out and settled in. Almost immediately my first scan of the adjacent shoreline revealed a large mammal. First thought was 'dog'. Never thought 'boar' till I had no options left. Now this is going to sound silly, but it was a bear-like creature with thick fur that shone in the moonlight. The legs were thick, unlike a dog or boar, and it perambled along, bear-like. I watched this for about 10mins at a distance of 100m in the moonlight as it snuffed along the beach looking for morsels before entering the scrubline and dissapearing. I am completely unsure of any identification, and will not even attempt it. It has to have been wild boar, but my mind just will not agree. As far as I am concerned, keep it quiet and let it be. But if anyone wishes to investigate they may. The creature was aware of me and though initially startled came back quite soon. Maybe some smuggled pet has either escaped off the smuggling boat or been set free? I must save up and either get night vision or photo-trap. These night walks are frustrating the hell out of me.

2 comments:

Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

On the night vision front, things are starting to get quite interesting. For a very long time the market has been dominated by Russian-made generation 1 image intensifiers, mostly single-stage units though a few old NATO 3-stage units are still around. Gen-1 units ceased being used commercially in the late 1970s, since they're really not much good and need infrared illuminators to work at night.

Gen-2 units are much better, but retail at close on a thousand pounds per tube retail, and Gen-3 units when genuine ones can be found are absurdly expensive.

However, in the last couple of years people have realised that if you take a Sony HAD CCD sensor, slow the framerate down and display the result on a small display screen, you have what to all intents and purposes is Gen-2 night vision, without the absurd price tag and without the chance of ruining the thing with bright light from cars or streetlights (which I managed to do with my best NV device some months ago).

The cheapest units of this type that I have seen are the Newton Hornet at about 180 pounds sterling, and some of the Yukon branded units at around 200 pounds. These are essentially sensitive CCD cameras, and all have video outputs on them so can export a video stream to a small recording device; just the ticket for cryptozoological investigation since you can review a night's footage next morning and publish the actual film of a sighting, as opposed to an account of it.

Better yet Governments don't seem to think these units are militarily sensitive so don't impose import/export restrictions on them. The units are also unaffected by bright lights which tend to kill normal NV equipment, and are much more robust than normal NV tubes are.

shiva said...

Do you think the "pale" creature you first saw and the "bear-like" creature you observed later were the same animal, or 2 different animals?

Can't think of anything native to Hong Kong itself but one thought is the Binturong, found in places like Malaysia, which is also known as the "bearcat" and is about as big as a large dog with short, thick legs and a shaggy coat, and is sometimes captured for the pet trade. May not be tall enough to be your sighting tho.

Could it have been a breed of dog with long/woolly hair making its legs look thicker?