Army Yeti footprints claim finds few takers
The Army revived the debate over the legend of Himalayan Yeti in a late Monday night tweet saying that one of its mountaineering teams had recently sighted the “mysterious footprints” of the “mythical beast” on the slopes of the world’s fifth highest mountain, Nepal’s Makalu. The Army said the footprints measured 32 inches by 15 inches.
Scientists and experts argued that there was no evidence to back the presence of the mythical beast also known as the Abominable Snowman. But the Army insisted its account was based on “physical proofs of on-the-spot narration, photos and videos” and aimed to “excite scientific temper.”
A Major Manoj Joshi-led 18-member mountaineering team collected the evidence the Army referred to. The Army team found it while acclimatising at Langmala Kharka on April 9 two weeks after its expedition was flagged off from New Delhi. It will attempt to climb to the summit of the 8,485 metre-high Mount Makalu in the second week of May. “For the first time, an #IndianArmy Mountaineering Expedition Team has sited Mysterious Footprints of mythical beast ‘Yeti’ measuring 32x15 inches close to Makalu Base Camp on 09 April 2019. This elusive snowman has only been sighted at Makalu-Barun National Park in the past,” the Army tweeted, along with three pictures of the footprints.
The photos, which the team sent to the Army Adventure Wing over satellite phone, showed only the prints of a single foot, sparking memes on Twitter. The Army said it tweeted about the Yeti as it “thought prudent to excite scientific temper and rekindle the interest [in the beast].” “Some of us, who reject the story, surely shall have a definite answer to the evidence…As they say, nature, history and science never write their final story,” an Army official said on condition of anonymity. Maheshwar Dakal, a joint secretary in Nepal’s forest department, said the Makalu-Barun National Park has a healthy brown bear population but they have no evidence that the Yeti exists in the area. “We cannot ascertain the presence of the Yeti unless we have proof in the form of pictures or others. The footprint does not explain all and could be [that] of a bear or snow leopard,” Dakal said. The Army said the evidence would be handed over to experts after its team returns to Delhi in June.
World Wide Fund (WWF)-India’s species and landscape programme director, Dipankar Ghose, said it was “unbelievable that such a species exists which has not been discovered yet”.
“Because of atmospheric pressure and heat, the hind paws of animals disappear while walking on snow. Only forepaws are visible which are splayed over time,” Ghose said, explaining the lack of the second footprint in the Army’s photos. Several scientists at Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India, who have worked in Nepal, also said the footprints could be those of a bear.
“It could be the footprints of a brown bear and I do not believe that such a species [the Yeti] exist in that part of the Himalayas,” said Bivash Pandav, a senior scientist at the institute.
WWF Nepal’s Santosh Mani said people in the region used to call brown bear Yeti several decades ago.
“Locals in common parlance used the term. But now they are well sensitised and understand how a brown bear looks like,” he said, adding that the footmarks could be of an overgrown brown bear.