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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Monday, April 05, 2010


CFZ ARCHIVING PROJECT: General Forteana Part 5

As you know, Oll has been working on the archiving project since early February 2009 and he is now working on a general mish-mash of a section known as `General Forteana`. This fifth trenche is another general mish-mash with animal attacks, and a whole bunch of chupacabra stuff. Good stuff.


MIKE HALLOWELL: Cleadon at last

Well, spring has sprung, the grass is riz and Darren W. Ritson and I have returned home from our expedition to Cleadon Hills, It was an arduous time. The outward journey took no less than eleven minutes, which a check with CFZ records showed was just slightly less than the time it took Richard Freeman to Mongolia on his last sojourn there. Still, we made it.

Our first stop was the old Cleadon Water Tower where a ghost was said to appear from time to time; not exactly in the water tower, but in the field adjacent to it. She/he/it did not put in an appearance. Details about the alleged water tower ghost are vague. One version of the story is that it is a "screaming banshee", but it is likely that the tale is a distorted version of that concerning another ghost said to inhabit the nearby Cleadon Mill. Cleadon Mill it was, then. We checked our compasses, marshalled our team of donkeys and paid the sherpas another fiver.

Cleadon Mill is now abandoned, and is one of a number of historical monuments within South Tyneside which generate echoes of long-gone days. The flour has been replaced by dust and soil, the miller's family by pigeons nesting in numerous cavities within the sturdy walls. By the time we arrived at the mill a tremendous gale had generated. This certainly ramped up the eeriness, but the Woman in the Red Dress didn't show. We were truly disappointed. Darren and I took over one hundred photographs, hoping that at least on one she'd put in an appearance. She didn't. Bugger.

But the main purpose of our visit was not to track down ghosts. Rather, we were searching for one of two legendary cryptids said to stalk the vicinity. One was the notorious Cleadon Big Cat, which first ensconced itself into local folklore back in 2002. The second was the Beast: a large, hirsute man-like creature akin to Bigfoot. The Beast was of more recent provenance and of far more interest to me than the big cat.

As the wind chewed at our flesh, we searched. Darren ventured south, whilst I walked to the north. And it was then that I saw it. There, lumbering away from me across the landscape, was a large biped with an unusual gait. It was at this juncture I realised just how cunning the Beast could be, because through my binoculars I could see that it had shape-shifted and taken upon itself the exact appearance of Darren in an effort to go undetected. Truly, the Beast of Cleadon Hills is the most devious of cryptozoological entities.

"The weird thing," Darren commented later, "is that the place where you photographed the creature is EXACTLY where I was at the same time…and yet I swear to God I didn't see it. It must have been right next to me."

As the gale force increased we decided to bring our expedition to a close there and then. The Screaming Banshee had avoided us. The spectral Woman in the Red Dress had not deigned to appear. The Cleadon Big Cat had seemingly moved on to pastures new. But we HAD caught the Beast of Cleadon Hills on camera – incredibly, masquerading as Darren. Our journey had not been wasted, then, but both of us would be later that evening.

This picture must rank as one of the most incredible ever taken in the annals of paranormal research. As a public service the WraithScape team has decided to place it in the public domain for all to wonder at, copy and send to their friends. It's just the sort of guys we are.

So, what does the future hold? We aim to petition the CFZ to launch a full expedition to Cleadon Hills. No man, woman, child or household pet can be safe while the Beast roams free. Posses of vigilantes must roam the hills at midnight carrying burning torches with dramatic music playing in the background until the Beast – that dreaded, loathsome Beast - is captured. Until it is subdued and displayed in a cage at the next Weird Weekend we simply cannot rest in our beds.



1= The Owlman and Others by Jonathan Downes (1)
2= The Mystery animals of Britain: Kent by Neil Arnold (10)
3= Extraordinary Animals Revisited by Dr Karl Shuker (1)
3= In the wake of Bernard Heuvelmans by Michael Woodley (-)
3= Monster Hunter by Jonathan Downes (-)
6= Big cats loose in Britain by Marcus Matthews (3)
6= Star Steeds and Other Dreams by Dr Karl Shuker (-)
6= The Island of Paradise by Jonathan Downes (-)
8= Monster - the A-Z of Zooform Phenomena by Neil Arnold (-)
7= Strangely Strange but Oddly Normal by Andy Roberts (-)


1 Monster - the A-Z of Zooform Phenomena by Neil Arnold (3)
2 Extraordinary Animals Revisited by Dr Karl Shuker (1)
3= Big Bird by Ken Gerhard (3)
3= In the wake of Bernard Heuvelmans by Michael Woodley (7)
5 The Owlman and Others by Jonathan Downes (10)
6 The Island of Paradise by Jonathan Downes (-)
7= Dr Shuker's Casebook by Dr Karl Shuker (2)
7= Strangely Strange but Oddly Normal by Andy Roberts (-)
9= Star Steeds and Other Dreams by Dr Karl Shuker (-)
9= Dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals on stamps by Dr Karl Shuker (-)

Last month's positions in this pinky colour, which I think is called cerise.
I am reasonably happy with March's sales. However, it is quite a strange chart: even my father's Africa book has started to sell for the first time in four years.

LINDSAY SELBY: An early tale of Chipekwe

When the early travellers reached the Victoria Falls, and for long afterwards, there were no natives living within sixty miles of the place. They feared an evil spirit, they said, which haunted the falls. Cataract Island, on the lip of the falls, was once known as Devil's Island, and Coillard the missionary said of it: "The natives believe it is haunted by a malevolent and cruel divinity, and they make it offerings to conciliate its favour, a bead necklace, a bracelet or some other object, which they fling into the abyss, bursting into lugubrious incantations, quite in harmony with their dread and horror."

Many white men believe in a Victoria Falls monster that lives at the foot of the falls. Captain Reynard, the curator I have mentioned, told me that three men whose word he could not doubt had seen this creature.

Livingstone mentioned a serpent in these waters and it is part of the Barotse folklore. Natives assured Livingstone that it was large enough to hold a canoe and prevent the paddlers from moving in any direction. According to fairly recent accounts it is thirty feet long with a small slate-grey head and thick black body, which it exhibits in fold after fold.

Mr V. Pare, for many years in charge of boats on the Zambesi, climbed down to the bottom of the Victoria Falls gorge in 1925, when the water was at the lowest ebb in living memory. That was the first time he set eyes on the monster. It was a serpent-like creature, and when it saw Pare it reared up and then vanished into a deep cavern. Pare reported seeing it again, years afterwards, at the foot of the Devil's Cataract.

Natives call the monster Chipique and say that it came up from the ocean a thousand miles away. Native fishermen are so afraid of it that they will not venture out at night. "Chipique rules the river in the dark hours," point out the fishermen.

Mr J. W. Soper, who has trapped and shot a great many crocodiles round about the falls, has heard native reports of very large specimens. But it is unlikely that Mr Pare would have failed to identify a crocodile. It may be a large python, of course, like the legendary great snake of the Orange River.

From page 114. The book is called There's a Secret Hid away by Lawrence Green, and it is about tales of southern Africa. Printed by Howard Timmins, Cape Town. Lawrence Green died in 1973. This copy of the book was reprinted in 1981. The original was printed in 1956. I got this on loan from the British library but you can still get second hand copies of the books from dealers

List of his books http://www.booksofzimbabwe.com/page5LGG.html


Darn, I wish it were a frog but it is a toad. Frog would have made a good rhyme!

From The Times of November 12th 1790 comes this tale of an entombed toad with a difference:(I say this because toads usually seem to be entombed in stones.) 'Last week, in cutting up an ash tree, which had been felled in Ennerdale, a live toad was found in the core of it at the distance of 14ft from the root. The tree was in other respects, perfectly sound.' (1)

1.The Times November 12th 1790.

Sorry, no time for lyrics today, I`m half way through lunch.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day 1992 Isaac Asimov died.
Also, I know I’ve mentioned it before but if you are a UK citizen and haven’t signed this yet, make sure you do: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/right-to-link/

And now, the news, thanks to Gavin L. Wilson:

MS sufferer treated by bees
Easter is 'croc chase' time in Costa Rica
Sheep attacked 'by aliens'

Clearly these super-intelligent extra-terrestrials that can invent craft that can fly for billions and billions of kilometres, are not clever enough to work out that removing a sheep’s brain is ‘baa’-d for it.