Scientists and experts said on Tuesday there is no evidence to back the presence of the mythical Yeti after the Indian Army said it has sighted the footprints of the ape-like creature of folklores in eastern Nepal.
The army tweeted late on Monday to say that one of its mountaineering expedition had come across the footprints of the Yeti, or the abominable snowman as it is known in legends, near the Makalu Base Camp earlier in April. It also posted pictures of what it said were the “mysterious footprints” of only a single foot.
“For the first time, an #IndianArmy Moutaineering Expedition Team has sited Mysterious Footprints of mythical beast ‘Yeti’ measuring 32×15 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 (sic),” the army tweeted.
Joint secretary of Nepal’s forest department Maheshwar Dakal said the Makalu-Barun National Park has a healthy population of the brown bear 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 of bear or snow leopard,” Dakal said.
Dipankar Ghose, the director of the species and landscape programme of the World Wide Fund-India, said it was “unbelievable that such a species exists which has not been discovered yet”.
“Because of the melting of snow and heat, the forepaws of animals disappear while walking on the snow. Only hind paws are visible which are splayed over time,” Ghose explained the lack of the second footprint in the army’s photos.
Several scientists at Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII), who have worked in Nepal but not in the park, 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 (Yeti) exist in that part of the Himalayas,” Bivash Pandav, a senior scientist at the institute, said.
Santosh Mani of WWF Nepal said that people in the region used to call the brown bear Yeti several decades ago.
“Locals in common parlance used to term a brown bear as Yeti. But, now they are well sensitised and understand how a brown bear looks like.”
He said that the footprints could be of an overgrown brown bear.
The Yeti, said to live in the Himalayan regions of Nepal, has largely been regarded by scientists as a mythical creature in the past as well.
A 2017 study of the genetic research on purported specimens of the legendary beast said to live in the Himalayan region, analysed nine bone, tooth, skin, hair and faecal samples from museum and private collections attributed to the Yeti and found that eight came from Asian black bears, Himalayan brown bears or Tibetan brown bears and one came from a dog.
“This strongly suggests that the Yeti legend has a root in biological facts and that it has to do with bears that are living in the region today,” Charlotte Lindqvist, the biologist who led the study published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, had said then.