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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Unlike some of our competitors we are not going to try and blackmail you into donating by saying that we won't continue if you don't. That would just be vulgar, but our lives, and those of the animals which we look after, would be a damn sight easier if we receive more donations to our fighting fund. Donate via Paypal today...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

OLL LEWIS: The Habitat and Ecology of the Sumatran Rhinoceros

Whilst there is still no news from Sumatra, Oll is hard at work looking at the forteana of that strange island...

As I mentioned in my previous blog about the conservation state of the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) there are, or were, three subspecies of the rhinoceros found on the mainland, Sumatra and in Borneo. Of these three species the Western Sumatran rhinoceros (D.s. sumatrensi) found on Sumarta and the Malasian peninsular is the most common with an estimated 220 individules left and the Eastern Sumatran rinoceros (D. s. harrissoni) from Borneo is the seccond most common with only aroud 50 known individules. The third subspecies, the Northern Sumatran rhinoceros (D. s. lasiotis) which was to be found in Berma, Bangledesh and India, is thought to be almost certinly extinct. There was once considered to be a fourth subspecies found on the malasian peninsular which was known as D. s. niger but these were found to be no different to the Western Sumatran rhinoceros.

Sumatran rhinos main habitat is montaine moss forest and although it prefers deep forest it will ocasionally be seen on the outskirts of the forests.During the dry season it tends to inhabit more lowland forest but retreats to higher ground during the rainy season and flooding. It will tend to stay within a very short distance of water with a females home range being around 500-1500 ha and a males home range is larger, often overlapping the home range of several females. A Sumartran rhinoceros will not travel far in a day, usually not more than 1 or 2 km between feeding and wallowing sites, unless it is looking a new sourse of water or a salt lick. In order to reach a salt lick a rhino can travel up distances between 5 to 10 km.

The Rhinos are mainly solitary animals, with pairs only being seen when maiting and when mothers are looking after young. Gestation will take around 62 weeks with offspring reaching maturity at around 6 to 7 years of age. The offspring will disperse while still sub aduls leaving their mother when they are about 4 years old.


If werewolves, hairy shape-shifting monsters, and silver-bullets are your thing, then you’re in for a big, big treat! The good folk at Visible Ink Press have just published an excellent, fully updated, and massively expanded, edition of Brad Steiger’s near-legendary title, The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings. Originally published in 1999, this is a book that, beyond any shadow of doubt whatsoever, is undeniably essential reading for devotees of all-things beastly, vicious, and full-moon-based.

Read on...


Some weeks ago, Olivia my darling younger step-daughter telephoned in great excitement. She had discovered an episode of a TV cartoon called The Secret Saturdays which dealt with The Owlman of Mawnan. Now things get even weirder. Richard Freeman sends this episode which includes a story about the so-called Cameroon flashlight frog.

A website called The Cryptodominion reports:

Cameroon "flashlight frog" (Northern Cameroon AFRICA): A frog with a luminous nose has been reported from the northern areas of Cameroon. A luminescent area on it's nose would probably serve to attract insect prey; a very useful adaptation for an insect eater like a frog. Probably a tree frog of some kind, although perhaps related to the big Pyxicephalus frogs of the savannah.

The entire story is based upon something that I wrote for Uri Geller's Encounters in 1997, following en encounter with a reptile dealer who had two of these frogs for sale at the Creepy Crawly Show on Newton Abbot Racecourse. They were remarkably dull greyish green treefrogs with bluish spots on the tips of their snouts. The dealer swore blind that they were bioluminescent...

And here is the video:


Did you know that tawny owls fished? This amazing footage from the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Tawny_Owl#p007hrnn


We received this eyewitness statement a few days after Max was in the Western Morning News (20/8/2011)

In 1997 we rented a caravan for a week at Challaburgh near Bigbury in south Devon. It was the first week in September. At 8.30 in the evening I decided to try to find a rubbish bin. The holiday camp is in a valley surrounded by farmland, with an outlet to the sea at the bottom. On the left hand side there are bungalows built up the side and on the right hand side is field and a few bushes and trees.

Looking at some birds flying at the top, my gaze travelled downward. I then saw what at first appeared to be a large black dog travelling across the field on a rough path and then realised that it would be difficult to get any closer to it. I then became aware that the tail was large and curved like a cat and the shoulders’ movements also. Puma or leopard came to mind!

It then broke away from the track and came further down the field, and I lost sight of it because of bushes obstructing the view. All this lasted about five minutes. I then saw an elderly couple and I asked if they had seen it. They said that they were aware that others had spotted it and a gent who lived in the bungalows had taken photos of it. Over the next few days I mentioned it to the staff at the camp, but there was not much interest or feedback. However, I did meet a man who helped out a local farmer and who, in the past, had put down sheep that had been savaged by dogs. He related that they had found dead sheep before with wounds that didn’t resemble anything like the damage done by dogs. He also surmised that it might have been a big cat that could have escaped from Sparkwell Wildlife Park. They had reported one had died there a couple of years ago. Had they covered the escape? After that first day there the week went by and we came home to Plymouth and we never did see anything in the press. Anyway, it looks like I’ve found the right people to tell. Thanks. PETER.

HAUNTED SKIES: London Evening Standard 6.3.68


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1990 Allison Scagliotti was born. Scagliotti plays Claudia Donovan in the brilliant Warehouse 13.
And now the news:

Biodiversity Loss May Be Contributing to Amphibian...
Unidentified lark spotted in Ethiopia -
A dozen new nightfrog species found in India - 3 '...
Beaver teeth found are 7m years old
t came with my online shopping': Mystery shopper h...
Briton catches 18ft anaconda in South America
20-million-year-old skull discovery

Something vaguely related from They Might Be Giants:

OLL LEWIS: The Sumatran Tiger

Whilst there is still no news from Sumatra, Oll is hard at work looking at the Forteana of that strange island...

Sumatra’s land animals have been genetically isolated since sea levels rose between 12,000 and 6,000 years ago. As a result of this the fauna of the island is quite unique with many distinct and rare subspecies being found on the island. Some species and subspecies like the Sumatran rhinoceros are, although critically endangered and very rare indeed, found on the mainland as well as Sumatra itself, but others are found just on the island, having evolved there after the island became cut off from the mainland. One of those endemic subspecies is the Sumatran tiger, Panthera tigris sumatrae.

The Sumatran tiger is the smallest subspecies of tiger in the world, with males measuring an average of 2.4 metres in length compared to the 3.5-metre-length reported in some Siberian tigers (Panthera tigris altaica). There are a number of reasons why a comparatively small size has proved an evolutionary advantage for the Sumatran tiger; their smaller size makes movement and hunting easier in the dense forests that formed their habitat, for one. Another reason the Sumatran tiger is smaller than that of their Siberian counterparts is that, according to Bergman’s rule, when a species is widely distributed, larger sizes will tend to be present in colder climates and smaller sizes will be seen in warmer climates. This is certainly true of tigers, which show smaller average size and weight the closer one gets to the equator. A smaller size will tend to mean a higher surface area to volume ration facilitating heat loss through the skin, which is useful in warmer climates.

The advantages to being smaller in dense forest outweigh the disadvantages but the small size of the Sumatran tiger also presents problems that they might not have to deal with were they larger like the Siberian tiger. One of these problems is, being smaller they might seem more attractive as prey themselves but due to markings mimicking the look of eyes on the back of their ears, predators approaching the tigers from behind are often fooled into thinking it is facing towards them and larger.

Another adaptation to their habitat exhibited by the Sumatran tiger subspecies is webbing between their toes, which makes them fast swimmers in comparison to most of their prey. This is particularly useful if hunting in or near water as the tigers, with their webbed feet, will easily be able to out-swim most other mammals, especially those with hooves; should their prey enter the water they will be able to catch up with it or get to the bank quicker. Should the prey be of a manageable size they may even kill it while still in the water.

Despite being very well adapted to their environment the numbers of Sumatran tigers are very low and they are a critically endangered species. Estimates of their numbers range from 500 according to a 1998 survey and 300 according to a 2008 survey. If both surveys are accurate this means that the tiger’s population has crashed by almost 50% in only 10 years, giving a very bleak outlook for the continued survival of the species. Even if the species were to recover its numbers almost half of its genetic diversity has been wiped out; that can include resistance to various diseases and amplify the instance of various genetic disorders amongst the surviving population. On the other hand, other species of big cat like cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) show a very low genetic diversity thought to have been caused by similar potentially catastrophic population crashes, but their species have survived to the present day. The Sumatran tiger’s current problems have similar causes to the problems that have also caused the near extinction of the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis): habitat destruction and poaching. Habitat destruction caused by deforestation (often by the palm oil industry) has meant that there is less food available for the tigers' regular prey and therefore in turn less prey and that there are less places to hunt or raise cubs in safety. Deforestation and human encroachment has also made it easier and more likely for humans to encounter the tigers. This can have advantages, such as when the shy animal was caught on film in the wild for the first time a few years ago, but these pale into insignificance when compared to the disadvantages.

The worst of these is that the creature becomes easier for poachers to catch. Tiger body parts are popular in Chinese medicine and fetch a high price on the black market, often being turned into other products like wine or powders, which idiots who put the rest of their countrymen to shame actually believe increase virility, prolong life or can be cures for syphilis or other STDs. Because they are harder to locate than Sumatran rhinos and have a much larger range tigers are harder to protect in nature reserves and the fact that often the whole body will be taken when a poacher murders a tiger makes it difficult to be sure of the impact of poachers on this shy animal without regular population surveys, so poaching can go unchecked.