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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Saturday, November 14, 2009

LAWRIE WILLIAMS: The Bhutan Yonquis

Australia has its own mystery ape: the yowie. By all accounts he is similar to the Himalayan yeti, the North American sasquatch and the yunqui of Puerto Rico, to name just a few of the mystery animals that have become big uncouth shambling brutes in the wilderness of the human imagination. ('Yunqui' is Argentinian slang for a North American, quite possibly the origin of 'yankee')

Yowies are believed to inhabit rainforest and gumtree forest beyond the Great Dividing Range. I thought that the best way to find a yowie would be to live within their habitat. Keep a camp oven simmering with ham hocks and oxtail and other goodies. No dogs, no guns, no sharps. Perhaps a few plump women. And exude an ambiance of passive, patient gentleness.

I wanted to see how the experts searched for a yeti so I watched a documentary titled The Bhutan Yeti, which was made by the Destination Truth team from California. They flew to the remote Kingdom of Bhutan. There they filmed local colour - archery, buddhist monks, prayer-wheels, white-water rafting and so forth.

With time to spare they made the creative decision to go and search for a yeti. So they drove to remote Sakteng, a preserve where the mysterious yeti and other better documented creatures live in peace. At least until the Destination Truth team arrived.

They set up base camp with a great array of fancy equipment.
White people have long meant the indiscriminate use of murderously powerful firearms. The mere presence of Americans should have ensured that every yeti for leagues around would run away. But these people were experts so they clearly knew what they were doing.

To their credit they found a tree with scratch marks on it, and collected a tuft of long white hair that later defied DNA analysis. Apparently the lab involved had no great ape DNA for reference purposes.

It was all very high-tech. Spock on Star Trek pioneered a blue light that shone into his eyes every time he tried to read his instruments. The Bhutan yeti team took a leaf from his book and went out into the darkness harnessed up with special dangling lamps that shone directly into their own faces. This made possible the use of in-your-face night-vision cameras. This was essential as they had brought along a girl whose task was to exude fear and to squeal in panic whenever crew members made noises off camera.

The yeti hunters blundered out into the night in twos and threes, clattering over rocks, getting entangled in the shrubbery and variously shouting, talking in stage whispers and operating walkie-talkies. One has to admire their technique. Clearly the purpose was to amuse and disarm the yeti so they could see him while he was rolling on the ground laughing helplessly.

The Destination Truth team had a fascination for the gorges. They had to shout above the noise of the rapids. Unable to hear or see their quarry, they searched caves in places prone to flash floods in case they were occupied by retarded yetis. Strangely enough, nothing whatsoever lived in those places.

They did find a cage-like gondola used to cross a ravine. They sliced through the rope that was used to tow it from one side to the other, no doubt because getting stranded in the middle made good theatre for the inevitable ad-break. Good PR, guys. The girl came in useful there.

They did bring back pictures of bones from the "meti", the brown bear of the Himalayas (you try saying "yeti" with your lips half frozen). Veteran researcher Dr Matako Nabuka says it is the source of the western myth that there are hairy hominids living in the region. How dare he say that?!

At the culmination of their hunt for this shy and elusive creature the Destination Truth team spotted movement with their infrared equipment. The yeti/ tiger/ bear/ wolf/ whatever it was had conveniently found the carcass of a deer. Following it, they found a deer leg. This resulted in a lot of excitement: "Whatever this thing is it's rippin' up animals in its path...!" leader Josh Gates shouted.

The thermal images could indeed have been a yeti that had shorn off his dense insulating coat. More likely it was a stray member of the Destination Truth team.

Gates now used a wonderful technique: the Californian Shout. Yetis being shy animals, the Destination Truth leader took off after the suspect animal, shouting Words of Power in order to make the fleeing creature freeze in its tracks.

"I don't know how much more I can do to get up close to where this animal is supposed to live," he yelled as he clattered up the hill, his lamps and equipment flailing around him. "It's moving. Go go go!" he shouted into his walkie-talkie. Back at base camp they seemed confused as to where to go.

"We're trying to chase it down now...it's scrambled up a hill, I think - we're actually in pursuit of it now... I don't think it has anywhere to go; we're going to chase it down," he shouted in heroic tones of uncertain determination.

If it was a yeti then in his terror of Gates he must have scaled the Himalayas and headed for China, for he was seen no more.

Did Destination Truth go to Bhutan to find a yeti or did they go there to make a dramatic documentary about uncouth monsters running around terrifying innocent native wildlife? I ask you: what were the yunquis really doing in Bhutan?


BhutanYonquis1 how to sneak up on a yeti
BhutanYonquis2 in full cry
BhutanYonquis3 revelation
BhutanYonquis4 cutting edge documentary work
BhutanYonquis5 a yeti bad hair day
BhutanYonquis6 yunquis in deep thought

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