China to embark on Yeti expedition
A group of Chinese scientists and explorers is to embark on a €1.1m-expedition in search of the country's equivalent of the Yeti, or Bigfoot, which is said to stalk the high mountains and forests of the central province of Hubei.
The fresh search for the 'yeren', or 'Wild man', comes nearly 30 years after China's Academy of Science launched three expeditions in the late 1970s and early 1980s following a series of sightings of the creatures which are said to be 6ft 7in tall and covered in reddish-brown hair.
In the most lurid accounts, reported by The Daily Telegraph in 1983, female members of the wild man species were supposed to have swept into villages in search of sexual partners, ravishing them as they lay paralysed in fear.
One peasant was asleep in his mountain forest hut when, according to an account in a 1983 edition of the Zhejiang Provincial Daily, a 'wild woman' with deep blue eyes burst through the door and proceeded to ravish him.
"He was too frightened to call out, and was powerless to resist," the paper reported, "the wild woman slept with him for several minutes and then left."
Despite the tall-sounding tales, the organisers of the latest hunt, the Hubei Wild Man Research Association, say they are serious about their expedition for which they are seeking international volunteers and €1.1m in funding from private organisations.
"We will organise five teams to focus on five key areas where the 'yeren' are known to have been located," said Wang Shancai, vice president of the Hubei Wild Man Research Association told The Telegraph, "we will use the latest and most modern methods, including camera traps."
The expedition, which was reported by the state news agency Xinhua, will be following in the footsteps missions by China's Academy of Science in 1977, 1980 and 1981 that yielded 'evidence' including footprints, hair-samples and nesting sites, all of which ultimately proved inconclusive.
This time, however, Mr Wang, is confident that with sufficient funding and the aid of modern research techniques and the latest field gadgets, the research will bear fruit.
"Previous searches did not focus on the correct areas, they were two scattered and did not deploy the latest devices," he said, "With these at our disposal, I believe we have at least an 80pc chance of finding the 'wild man'."
There are more than 400 documented "sightings" of the Chinese wild man which is said to live in the Shennongjia Nature Reserve, a cluster of thickly forested mountains and hills ranging up to 9,800ft in western Hubei.
The Shennongjia forests have long been rich with superstition, partly driven by the highly unusual numbers of albino animals, including bears, muntiac deer, monkeys and snakes in the area which have been the object of more conventional scientific study.
However some have suggested that the 'wild man' - which was last 'sighted' in 2007 according to Xinhua – might not be entirely imaginary, and could be an undiscovered species of orangutan.