Friday, 23 September 2011

The Problems of studying the Almas and Yeren cryptids

There have been hundreds of reports coming out of Central Asia about a human-like creature that is not quite fully human, but neither is it entirely animal. It goes by many names depending on the language of the humans who encounter it. Among the assorted dialect terms for this wild man are Abnuaaya, Barmanu, Bekk-Bok, Biabin-Guli, Gul-Biavan, Guli-Avan, Golub-Yavan, Kaptar, Kra-Dhan, Ksy Gyik, Mirygdy, Mulen and Voita. As the study of this creature has moved out of folklore and into science, a more accepted general term has been needed to cut through the confusion. Those studying reports from China tend to call the beast the Yeren, those looking at reports from Mongolia and what used to be the Soviet Union call it Almas, or sometimes Almasti.

The problems of studying the Almas and Yeren have been compounded by the places where it is said to live. The largest of these are the forested mountains and uplands around the Tien Shan mountain range that straddle the borders of Russia, Mongolia and China. The mountains of China’s Hubei Province also produce reports, and so do the more remote regions of the Caucasus Mountains. All of these areas are far away, difficult to reach and bereft of any good roads.

If that were not enough, they lie in countries that for most of the 20th century were suspicious of foreigners - especially of those claiming to want to travel to remote areas for obscure reasons - and very often in areas closed to outsiders altogether. The problems that these regimes can throw in the way of cryptozoology researchers can be gauged by the life of Badzare Baradyine, a leading Mongolian zoologist. Not only did Baradyine see an Almas himself, he collected a huge amount of material on the Almas. He then got involved in a campaign that aimed to give the supposedly independent Mongolia greater freedom from the oppressive Soviet regime that exerted control from Moscow. He was promptly arrested by the Soviets, then put up against a wall and shot. His vast collection zoological data and specimens - including his work on the Almas - was confiscated and dispersed among various Soviet institutions, much of it being lost along the way.

Even now in the 21st century it involves a major effort to obtain permission to visit the areas where Almas and Yeren are reported to live. There then follows a physical endurance test to get to the remote regions. And all this costs a huge amount of money.

As a result much of the evidence for the existence of these enigmatic creatures relies on translations of media reports or scientific journals that have filtered out of the countries concerned. Putting these together can be a time consuming and frustrating task that does not guarantee any firm answers.

from BIGFOOT by Rupert Matthews

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