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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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jungle cats and agit prop...

This morning I got an e-mail from Darren Naish thanking us for having published a peice relating to his discussion about a new Indian mystery cat yesterday. We were happy to do so, because Darren is one of the good guys in a field filled with self-styled pundits, and always has something interesting to say. We were also impressed by his horribly Suessian pun the "Cat in the Ghat"

So in the spirit of the late great Doctor S, (and throwing down the gauntless to Darren, challenging him to somehow get `green eggs and ham` into a Tetzoo posting in the next week)

"And NOW comes an act of Enormous Enormance!
No former performer's performed this performance!
but Darren's surpassed himself better than that
by pulling another cat out of his hat"

OK, what he actually did was to visit the museum in Winchester where, amongst other things, he photographed the semi-legendary Hayling Island jungle cat.

However, he also wrote something which struck a deeper chord with me than anything else he has written in the past fifteen years of our friendship:

I took Will (my 7-year-old) along, and he loved it, spending literally hours looking through drawers of pinned insects and at stuffed things in cases. I see every indication that kids are naturally fascinated by animals and other living things: it's just that this interest is often not switched on at the right moment, nor is it nurtured or encouraged.

That is exactly what I have been saying for years, and it is exactly what I said in this article which was published today in the Western Daily Press...

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the newspaper...

Thanks to our friend and colleague Geoff Ward at the Western Daily Press for being kind enough to commission this article....

CRYPTOZOOLOGY NEWS: A whale of a tale

The North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) is one of the rarest animals in the oceans.

Called the right whale because it was the ‘right whale’ to hunt on account of its slow swimming speed and great size, commertial whalers reduced it almost to extinction.

The brilliant Wildlife Extra website reoprts that a right whale was seen 5 miles south of Faial Island in the Azores by biologists from Whale Watch Azores and the University of the Azores. This is the first record of a right whale in these waters since Jack The Ripper was in the news, back in 1888!

Lisa Steiner of Whale Watch Azores and Monica Silva from the University of the Azores
Watched the whale for more than an hour. It was identified as a right whale from photographs and the callouses on its tale flukes mean it was identifiable as the individual 3270 which was last seen in the Bay of Fundy on the US/Canadian border on the 24th September 2008.

A record of the 325 known right whales is kept by the New England Aquarium.

In related news, over forty North Atlantic right whales have been seen in the Gulf of Maine, leading right whale researchers at NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center to believe they have identified a wintering ground and potentially a breeding ground for this endangered species.

Picture credit: First North Atlantic right whale seen in the Azores since 1888. Lisa Steiner/whalewatchazores.com.


I suppose that it was inevitable considering that Richard and I have lived together on and off for about ten years (although not, thank goodness, in the Biblical sense) and collaborated on various crypto projects for the entire time,that he should be sneakily becoming our foremost Guest Blogger. He has always been obsessed with dogs, so it is not surprising that Derek's marvellous posting the other day on the subject of stray wolves in Illinois prompted not one, but two wolf-related bloggings.

Canis lupus hodophilax

Some of the most fascinating wolves were found in Japan. There were two sub-species of wolf in Japan, the dwarf wolf, Honshū wolf or Shamanu (Canis lupus hodophilax) and the Hokkaido wolf or Ezo wolf (Canis lupus hattai ). The former was the smallest of all wolf species at fourteen inches shoulder hight. It was also the most strinkingly marked wolf species,with grey, white and russet fur. The Shamanu occupied the islands of Honshū, Shikoku, and Kyūshū. It was eradicated by a combination of rabies (perhapse were the myth of the mad Hito-okami first arose), that first appered in the area in 1732 and the introduction of fire arms. Troughout the 19th century they were extensivly hunted and the last known individual was killed near Washikaguchi on Honshū in 1905. In Higashi-Yoshino Village in Nara prefecture a requiem for the Shamanu is carred out each year. Despite this there are sightings that sugest the dwarf wolf might still be extant.

A wolf was killed and photographed in Fukui in 1910 but the body was destroyed by fire.

In 1934 a group of farmers northwest of Hongu reported seeing five or six wolves in a pack. After World War II, sightings increased. Forester and writer Ue Toshikatsu, thinks that this makes sense as conscription and war reduced the population of rural areas and produced an increase in the numbers of wild game such as boar and deer.

In 1993, Yanai Kenji published his own story of how, whilst mountaineering with his son and his co-worker, he was startled by a “horrible howling” near Ryogami Mountain in 1964. Soon after hearing the howls, the party encountered a lone wolf. The animal watched them briefly, then fled, leaving the half-eaten carcass of a hare behind.

In March 1994, a conference on the wolf’s possible survival was held in Nara. Over eighty professional and amateur researchers attended. They presented and analyzed reports from seventy witnesses who had seen wolves or heard howls. An accompanying story in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun stated that a shrine in Tottori Prefecture, just northwest of Nara, was discovered in January 1994 to hold a surprisingly recent specimen of a dwarf wolf. This animal may have been presented to the shrine as recently as 1950.

Most sightings have come from the Kii Peninsula. This rugged, mountainous block of land projecting into the Pacific from the southeastern coast of Honshu was the last stronghold of the Shamanu.

Canis lupus hattai

In 1966, a wolf expert named Hiroshi Yagi was driving on a forest road in Saitama prefecture (well north of the Kii) when he spotted what he believed was a wolf. He stopped, and the animal let him get close while he took photographs.

In 8th July 2000 Satoshi Nishida, a high school headmaster was on a camping trip in the mountains of central Kyūshū. He encountered a strange creature and took ten shots of it with an auto focus camera. Two of the best were taken at a range of only three to four meters from the left side of the animal.

Mr Nishida showed the pictures to Dr Yoshinori Imaizumi, a former chief at the National Museum’s animal research divistion and an expert on Japanese wolves. Dr Imaizumi noted several charactaristics inherent to the dwarf wolf including the rounded tip of the tail and the reddish orange fur behind the ears and on the outside of it’s legs. He thought it was a lactating female.

Thus far none of the alledged photos of Shamanu have reached the west.
Modern expeditions have focused on the Kii Peninsula but despite trapping efforts and playing recordings on Canadian wolf vocalizations the dwarf wolf remains elusive.

The Hokkaido wolf was closer in size to the average mainland wolf. It was found on Hokkaido, Shakhalin,the Kuril Islands and the Kamchatka Penninsular. It was thought to have become extinct in Japan around 1889 during the Meiji restoration period. It was deemed a threat to livestock and a bounty was placed on the species. They were erradicated mainly by poison.

Like the dwarf wolf, sightings of the Hokkaido wolf are reported from time to time. It is also thought they may survive in Kamchatka.

There can be no greater metaphore for the ‘progress’ of ‘civilization’ than the transformation of the wolf in Japan from a spiritual creature to noxious vermin as it’s culture became modenized. There is a striking similarity here to the case of the thylacine or Tasmanian marsupial wolf (Thylacinus cynocephalus). It too is offically extinct but continued reports from excellent eyewitnesses such as zoologists and park rangers sugest it still survives. If the same is true for the wolves of Japan it would be a triumph for both conservation and the Japanese nation. Let us hope that the howling gods still lurk in the fastness of the Japanese mountains.


I suppose that it was inevitable considering that Richard and I have lived together on and off for about ten years (although not, thank goodness, in the Biblical sense) and collaborated on various crypto projects for the entire time,that he should be sneakily becoming our foremost Guest Blogger. He has always been obsessed with dogs, so it is not surprising that Derek's marvellous posting the other day on the subject of stray wolves in Illinois prompted not one, but two wolf-related bloggings...

Isn’t it odd, our most beloved animal is the dog, but one of our most hated is the wolf?

Has there ever been an animal so maligned as the poor wolf? Once the most widespread carnivore on Earth it has been mostly wiped out were ever ‘cilvilzation’has sprung up.

Wolves send whole communities into states of unbridled and uncalled for panic. The few wolves that were migrating back into Scandinavia from Russia were met with hysteria and panic. Most were killed.

The Florida black wolf was hunted into extinction by 1917. The Mexican wolf’s wild population is now only just above 50 individuals. The Red Wolf has a world population of no more than 300.

Talk is now afoot of reintroducing the wolf, along with the lynx and the brown bear, into the Highlands of Scotland. Vast amounts of land have been set aside and I can only hope this wonderful and exciting project is not scuppered by spineless politicians and the cowardly bleatings of greedy farmers and landowners, not to mention the increasingly ludicrous Health and Safety Mafia.

During her two years as governor of Alaska, the pitifully stupid and revoltingly spiteful, creationist nutcase Sarah Palin proposed a $150 bounty for the severed foreleg of each wolf killed. Last summer, Alaska wildlife agency personnel hunted down 14 wolves in helicopters and shot them. They then entered the wolf’s dens and shot the defenseless pups. All this to ‘protect’ reindeer whose numbers are already artificially high.

To make her know wow appalled you feel about this sickening act of cowardly eco-terrorism follow the links below

Sign this petition!

Contact Palin's office direct and tell the bitch that the CFZ sent you!