FATE September 2005
Mystery Animals of New Guinea.
With an area of more than 340,000 square miles, New Guinea is second only to Greenland as the largest island in the world. (Australia is bigger than both but is officially deemed an island continent, rather than a mere island.) It is divided into Irian Jaya or Indonesian New Guinea as its western half and Papua New Guinea as its eastern half, but throughout its length and breadth are dense and little-explored rain forests where various, surprising new species of animal have been revealed in recent years, including a black-and-white panda-like whistling tree kangaroo known as the dingiso. Several more may still await discovery, judging from reports on file of certain bizarre beasts that cannot be satisfactorily reconciled by science with any species known to exist here.
I have documented some of these in previous Fate articles (reprinted in expanded form within my 1997 book, From Flying Toads To Snakes With Wings), such as the Papuan dragon or artrellia, the crocodilian lake monster of New Britain known as the migo, Lake Sentani’s mystery shark, and a veritable phalanx of controversial “lost” birds of paradise. However, those were just the tip of the cryptozoological iceberg, as demonstrated dramatically by the all-new selection of New Guinea enigmas now unveiled here.
Kayadi: The Papuan Bigfoot
I am greatly indebted to American cryptozoological investigator Todd Jurasek for the following information and his kind permission to publish it; it has not previously seen print anywhere. In fall 2002, Todd visited the village of Siawi in a remote region of Papua New Guinea roughly 18 miles east of the border with Irian Jaya just below the mountains and approximately six miles from the Sepik River. During his stay there, he interviewed members of several different tribes in the hope of extracting information of cryptozoological relevance, with the aid of a missionary called Jason acting as interpreter.
He obtained some information concerning giant monitors (the apparent identity of the Papuan artrellia) and also giant snakes, as well as some more surprising testimony concerning the alleged existence here of a lion-sized cat (no feline species is known to exist on New Guinea) and also a possible large canine cryptid. But by far the most extraordinary information obtained from these interviews concerned an alleged Bigfoot-like man-beast, which was described to Jason by members of both the Siawi and the Amto tribes.
According to their accounts, this New Guinea ape-man, known to the Amto people as the kayadi, was at least man-sized (that is, about five feet five inches tall, judging from the average height of most native peoples on New Guinea), hirsute, and bipedal, but also able to climb trees very rapidly and strong enough physically to throw humans if confronted. One Amti tribesman stated that in 1981 a kayadi had been startled by his uncle while digging for eggs in a cave near his village, and another claimed that a local girl had actually been kidnapped by one of these man-beasts.
Many of the major islands or island groups in the vicinity of New Guinea can lay claim to reports of man-beasts—such as the yowie in Australia, maero or macro in New Zealand, orang pendek in Sumatra, batutut in Borneo, and mumulou in the Solomon Islands. However, as far as I am aware, this is the first time that a named man-beast has been reported from New Guinea, thereby making Todd’s findings a very notable contribution to cryptozoology.
Crying Wolf in Irian Jaya?
The official extinction in 1936 on Tasmania of the remarkable thylacine or Tasmanian wolf (Tassie for short), a tiger-striped canine marsupial mammal as big as a wolf that could hop like a kangaroo and had a pouch like one too, is well-documented, as is its much earlier disappearance a couple of millennia ago on the Australian mainland. Less familiar is the fact that during the Pleistocene epoch, ending a mere 10,000 years ago, the thylacine also existed on New Guinea. Similarly, whereas the chronicles of cryptozoology are fairly bulging with unconfirmed post-1936 thylacine sightings both on Tasmania and in mainland Australia, it is not so well known that modern-day reports of suspiciously thylacine-like beasts have also emerged from New Guinea, specifically Irian Jaya, where such creatures are referred to by local people as the dobsegna.
During the early 1990s, grazier Ned Terry visited Irian Jaya and procured the following details from local testimony. Rarely seen in daylight, the dobsegna generally emerges from its den in rocks or caves at dawn or dusk to hunt for small prey animals. Its head and shoulders are dog-like, but its mouth is huge and strong, and its tail is very long and thin. Villagers claim that from its ribs to its hips it has no intestines (but this merely suggests that it is very thin in this particular body region), and that in this region it is striped.
Needless to say, this is a remarkably accurate verbal portrait of a thylacine, from the canine head and exceptionally powerful jaws to the slender, stripe-adorned hindquarters and lengthy tail. Moreover, in 2003 veteran Irian Jaya explorer Ralf Kiesel confirmed to me that since 1995 there have been persistent rumors of thylacines existing in at least two sections of Irian Jaya’s Baliem Valley—the Yali area in the valley’s northeast region, and the NP Carstenz in its southwest. The latter area is of particular significance because back in the early 1970s Jan Sarakang, a Papuan friend of Kiesel, had a most startling experience while working with a colleague in the mountains just west of NP Carstenz.
They had built a camp for some geologists near Puncac Jaya at an altitude of roughly a mile and a half and were sitting by their tents that evening, eating their meal, when two unfamiliar dog-like animals emerged from the bush. One was an adult, the other a cub, and both appeared pale in color. Most striking of all were their stiff, inflexible tails and the incredible gape of their jaws when they yawned spasmodically. Clearly drawn by the smell of the food, the two animals walked nervously from side to side, eyeing the men and their food supplies, and approaching to within 20 yards. Eventually the cub became bold enough to walk up to the men, who tried to feed it, but when one of them also tried to catch it, the cub bit his hand and both animals then ran back into the bush and were not seen again.