BIG FOOT - A Myth or Reality? The Garos of Meghalaya by culture have been nomadic in lifestyle. Much of the cultural believes and folklore has passed on to generation through word of mouth – in its oral form, like many other tribal culture of North East India. Interestingly, a popular folklore, which not only have attracted locals enthusiast for years now, but on several occasion have invited researches to ascertain on the story of Bigfoot, assumed to be an ape like mammal similar to the sighting of Yeti (Abominable Snowman)
sighted in Himalayan region of Nepal. Some Cryptozoology websites mentioned that in USA (Native Indians) it is called Bigfoot,
Canada / Pacific North West as Sasquatch
, Brazil as Mapinguary
, Indonesia as Sajarang Gigi / Orang Pendek
and in Australia as Yowie.
Those who have seen this ape like mammal called Mande Burung
in Garo dialect, have interesting stories to reveal. It is reported by the villagers that on one occasion, a man who was passing through a forest, was captured by this mammal and breast feed forcible. This was reported on January 18, 1999. His account said “the milk was sour with a mixture of bitterness”. On July 2005, a lady who was sleeping with her child heard of peculiar scratching sounds, outside her thatched hut sometime at night. Later, a big hairy creature entered her house. But, again there are interesting observation made by wildlife biologist who had made a study in this area of Garo Hills in North East. Bruce G Marcot, who was curious to know about this mammal, visited Garo Hills on two occasions in April 1998 and in December 2005. He concluded his say on this based on reply made by villagers. This is an excerpt made available from a website by Achik Tourism Society (ATS): “I queried my Garo Hills tribal friends at length on this. Here's a little composite of what they said according to stories they have been told: - the stride is up to 1/4 mile (nope, this isn't a misprint; one field-going biologist there who strongly believes in the creature said he found one track on a riverine beach, then another 1/4 mile away, and concluded the stride from this ... an example of needing to be a bit more circumspect in drawing conclusions from limited evidence, perhaps) - the creature is covered with long dark hair - the creature is so tall that it has to sleep standing up, leaning against a tree (I didn't understand the logic of this either, and neither did one of my Wildlife Institute of India colleagues, but it's part of the myth).
The legend on this mammal was told to Marcot by other enthusiast like Ajai Saxena, a research wildlife biologist with the prestigious Wildlife Institute of India in Dehra Dun, Uttar Pradesh, India, Ashish Kumar, a wildlife research assistant with the same Institute, who has been doing wildlife studies in the Garo Hills along with Saxena than, Tony Marak, then with the forest department and Anup Srivastava, a wildlife biologist based with the Forest Department in Meghalaya. In April this year again, various reports of Bigfoot sightings came up from various places in Garo Hills. There are few eyewitnesses who have claimed to have seen four creatures, some field enthusiast conclude this to be a family with two young ones. Again in Durabanda area, two adults with two young ones were seen in the later month of April this year. This to be the first ever sighting of Mande Burung family in Garo Hills. Another eyewitness said a female Mande Burung chased
away a human recently. If we take into account this tales, it suggest “unidentified giant creature”. Does it really exist in the deep dark forest of Garo Hills, a million dollar question perhaps! Some also calls this in local Garo dialect as Matdongdong or
the rarely heard Ajaju. The Achik Tourism Society, who had been in search for this, came out with some evidences on the survival of this mammal, if it really exists at all. They have collected some samples of hair recently, which is the only biological evidence they have, other than some imprints, footprints and scratch marks on tree trunks. The hair is being now sent for DNA and other forensic test, which will throw some light on this, if at all the hair is of that “Unidentified Giant Creature”.