Creatures, Myths & Legends
Could the Tibetan brown bear explain sightings of the Yeti ?
By T.K. Randall
November 4, 2022 · 18 comments
Is there an unknown biped lurking in the Himalayan wilds ? Image Credit: Pixabay / Bernell
A conservation researcher believes that a rarely seen species of bear could account for sightings of the legendary creature.
Believed to reside in the remote mountains and forests of Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal, the Yeti has long remained a spiritual and cultural staple for the people who live in the vicinity of the Himalayas.
Sometimes referred to as the Abominable Snowman, this elusive ape-like hominid became a major part of Western popular culture after climbers reported finding trails of large footprints in the snow during expeditions to climb some of the most treacherous and remote mountains on Earth.
But while the local people remain adamant that the Yeti is the real deal, scientists remain unconvinced and the fact remains that no definitive evidence of its existence has ever been forthcoming.
Madhu Chetri, a researcher with Nepal's National Trust for Nature Conservation, believes that sightings of the creature over the years might have a more conventional explanation in the form of the Tibetan brown bear - an extremely rare and endangered species that still clings on in the region.
"It's because of their physical description, their footprint, and how they're bipedal when they spot something interesting or unnatural," he said.
"Local people, particularly nomadic families, have shown me several times hair samples and footprints of Tibetan brown bears in the highland pastures saying this belongs 'to Yeti'."
"Also, signs of digging for Himalayan marmots can be seen in the upper Mustang - people generally say this is done by a 'Mithe' which means Yeti."
It could certainly be argued that the bears themselves are just as elusive as the Yeti, with a 2011 list of threatened species in Nepal recording a mere 20 individuals across the entire country.
Even so, these bears do actually exist and perhaps their scarcity could account for the surprise and awe that an unsuspecting local might feel if they happened to see one.
It's not a stretch to imagine that they'd believe they had caught sight of the Yeti.
Whether this accounts for all such sightings, however, remains unclear.
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