Kathmandu: The Nepal Army and a wildlife expert have dismissed the Indian Army's claim that its soldiers have spotted footprints of Yeti, the mythical beast found in the Himalayas, near the Makalu Base Camp, saying they were likely that of a bear.
On Monday, the Army claimed its mountaineering expedition team in Nepal found mysterious large footprints in the snow that they believe belong to Yeti, or the abominable snowman.
In Nepali folklore, Yeti is a mythical ape-like creature taller than an average human that is said to inhabit the Himalayas, Siberia, Central and East Asia.
"For the first time, an Indian Army Mountaineering Expedition Team has sited (sic) Mysterious Footprints of mythical beast 'Yeti' measuring 32x15 inches close to Makalu Base Camp on 09 April 2019. This elusive snowman has only been sighted at Makalu-Barun National Park in the past," the Indian Army tweeted on Monday night.
The Army also released photos showing large footprints in the snow which they claim belong to the creature. However, Director General of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Man Bahadur Khadka has dismissed the Indian Army's claim. "According to our experts, it may be the footprint of a bear found in the Himalayas," he was quoted as saying by the Kantipur Daily.
According to Nepal Army spokesperson Bigyan Dev Pandey, a liaison officer of the Nepal Army, who accompanied the Indian Army expedition team, had not directly seen the footprint. Pandey said some 3 to 4 years ago, a French expedition team had reported a similar sighting of giant footprints.
At that time it was reported that the unusual footprints were seen in the mountain. When the wildlife experts were contacted for verification, they said that the Makalu Barun region is home to large snow bears and the footprints might belonged to them, the officer said. An Indian Army team of 18 personnel led by Major Manoj Joshi embarked on an expedition to Mount Makalu in Nepal on April 2. On April 9, the team spotted "mysterious footprints" measuring 32 X 15 inches to close to the Makalu base camp.
Makalu is the fifth highest mountain in the world at 8,485 metres. It is located in the Mahalangur Himalayas, some 19 kilometres southeast of Mount Everest, on the border between Nepal and Tibet, China. Stories of the Yeti first emerged as a facet of Western popular culture in the 19th century. Given the lack of evidence of its existence, the scientific community has generally regarded the Yeti as a legend.