SCIENTISTS and yeti enthusiasts believe there may finally be solid evidence that the apelike creature roams the vast Siberian tundra.
A team of a dozen-plus experts from as far afield as Canada and Sweden have proclaimed themselves 95% certain of the mythical animal’s existence after a daylong conference in the town of Tashtagol in the Kemerovo region, some 2,000 miles east of Moscow. In recent years, locals there have reported sightings of the yeti, also known as the abominable snowman.
“Villagers say a 7 feet-tall beast has been stealing livestock…”
Is this finally proof the Yeti exists?
They have long been thought to be merely the stuff of legend.
But Russian officials say they have found ‘indisputable evidence’ that yetis exist—and are living in Siberia.
The bold claim follows an international conference and expedition to track down the Abominable Snowman in the Mount Shoria area.
However, doubt has already been cast on the ‘find’—as the team has no convincing photographic or DNA evidence. Their claim appears to be based on bent branches, a single unclear footprint and a small sample of grey ‘hair’, found in a cave.
The administration of the Kemerovo region, where the cave is situated, yesterday announced that ‘indisputable evidence’ had been found.
But critics said the expedition was more about making the area a tourist destination than true science.
Researchers who led the search said that they are closer than ever to catching one the creatures.
“During the expedition to the Azasskaya cave, conference participants gathered indisputable proof that the Shoria mountains are inhabited by the Snow Man,” the Kemerovo region administration announced yesterday.
“They found his footprints, his supposed bed, and various markers with which the Yeti uses to denote his territory.”
The markers appeared to be mainly broken trees and some Russian media reports have treated the Yeti claims with considerable scepticism.
Despite this, the local government officials professed themselves either certain or 95 per cent certain of the existence of Yeti in a highland area known as Mount Shoria.
The researchers themselves were less keen than the officials to claim the Yeti is definitely real. They stressed that the hair sample should be analysed for DNA—a process now underway—before any claims were made.
A bed of sticks they claimed that the Yeti had slept on is not thought to have contained hair samples.
Despite this, Dr Igor Burtsev, leader of the international event – the first of its kind for half a century, claimed it would not be long before people everywhere would appreciate the Yeti’s existence.
“We are close to finally finding the Abominable Snowman,” he said.
He claims around 30 Yetis live in the Kemerovo region, adding that they are Neandethal men who have survived to this day.
It is clear that since the fall of the Soviet Union two decades ago there have been increased ”sightings” of Yeti, and it is claimed more than a dozen villagers and hunters in this vast mountainous region close to the town of Tashtagol have given written accounts of either seeing the beasts themselves or finding their tracks.
There are also reports of the Yeti—claimed to be around 7ft-tall—stealing livestock from remote farms.
Still at Large: The History of the Yeti
The first accounts of Yetis emerged before the 19th century from Buddhists who believed that the creature inhabited the Himalayas. They depicted the mysterious beast as having similarities to an ape and carrying a large stone as a weapon while making a whistling sound.
The term Abominable Snowman was developed in 1921 following a book by Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Howard-Bury called Mount Everest The Reconnaissance.
Popular interest in the creature gathered pace in the early 20th century as tourists began making their own trips to the region to try and capture the Yeti. They reported seeing strange markings in the snow.
The Daily Mail led a trip called the the Snowman Expedition in 1954 to Everest. During the trip mountaineering leader John Angelo Jackson photographed ancient paintings of Yetis and large footprints in the snow.
A number of hair samples were also found that were believed to have come from a Yeti scalp.
British mountaineer Don Whillans claimed to have witnessed a creature when scaling Annapurna in 1970. He said that while searching for a campsite he heard some odd cries which his guide attributed to a Yeti’s call. That night, he saw a dark shape moving near his camp.
It is understood none of these local eye-witnesses gave evidence directly to the session, though participants heard other accounts from around the globe.
“We were shown some twisted willow branches that are referred to as markers—they were convincing evidence of this hominoid,” said Canadian Yeti researcher, John Binderangel, who has spent three decades hunting for conclusive proof of the Yeti.
“There were also some tracks, but we’re not quite sure what to make of them.”
An American housewife told the conference she regularly feeds Yeti in her back garden in Michegan but was unable to produce a single photograph of an elusive creature rumoured to exist for thousands of years.
One cynical Russian media report summed up the mission as “we haven’t actually found anything, but we very, very much wanted to have found something”.
Shortly before the ”experts” arrived, another hunt to the same cave to find the Yeti was led by the “Beast of the East”—former Russian heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuyev. It ended in failure, though locals saw it as a key plank in the region’s bid to boost tourism.
“Valuyev did not manage to meet the Yeti itself but on the way he discovered ‘traces’ such as broken tree branches,” said a spokesman.
“I saw lots of journalists but no Yetis,” admitted the boxer.
Dmitry Islamov, Vice Governor of Kemerovo Region on Economics and Regional Development said: “It doesn’t matter that the Kuzbass might not have Yetis. The main thing is that when people come to the Shoria Mountains, they truly enjoy its unique nature.”