Discovery Of Gorillas In Somaliland

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 7th, 2009

Breaking news out of Somaliland is of two giant hairy anthropoids/pongids being sighted locally.

Somaliland is an autonomous region, which is regarded by all countries as being part of the Somali republic located in the Horn of Africa. Those who call the area the Republic of Somaliland consider it to be the successor state of the former British Somaliland protectorate. Having established its own local government within Somalia in 1991, the region’s self-declared independence remains unrecognized by any country or international organization.

On December 7, 2009, the Somaliland Press is stating that a new species has been discovered in their country. The idea that most animals are long gone from Somaliland either by migration or the due to the civil war in the 1980s is, however, the common one.

Now, it’s been reported that at least two gorillas has been discovered in mountains about 20-kms east of the town of Sheikh in Somaliland.

According to local reports, the inhabitants of the area, who have never seen a gorilla before, described the animal about the size of a small donkey and moving around by knuckle-walking. At the time of the sighting, the locals said one of the gorillas was chasing a chimpanzee.

The sighting has created fear among the people of Geed-Lookor area. Many feared the animal could attack their livestock, which is the source of livelihood to many in Somaliland, while others feared it would create health hazards.

Mr. Mohamed Adan who is a prominent expert on ancient studies, has been collecting data on the sighting of the reported species. Mr. Mohamed stated that the fear of the locals is that these animals might come to the water wells and ponds in search of water and could transmit diseases to local people and animals.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

11 Responses to “Discovery Of Gorillas In Somaliland”

  1. shownuff responds:

    i really hope they find them and protect them. Go Mr. Mohamed.

  2. ned-kogar responds:

    “… the locals said one of the gorillas was chasing a chimpanzee”..

    And, in Somaliland, where did the chimp come from? That’s about 1000 miles outside its recognised range. And yet they don’t seemed surprised by the chimp. This all seems pretty hokey, or perhaps poorly translated.


  3. Loren Coleman responds:

    Mistranslation appears to not be the case, with the secondary media source. As I noted above, this area is a “former British Somaliland protectorate.” The source is the English language news service, Somaliland Press. Needless to say, primary source mistranslation could be in play.

    Misinterpretation may be behind the description of a “gorilla” chasing a “chimp.” If other reports discuss two gorillas, I figured the earlier report of the “gorilla chasing a chimp” could, of course, be a mistaken identification of a older gorilla chasing a younger one. If the size estimate is incorrect (“about the size of a small donkey”), then the misinterpretation could be of the primate species. What other animals look like they knuckle-walk? Baboons. However, Africans do not mistaken gorillas for baboon very often.

  4. Fhqwhgads responds:

    Somaliland is not only a good distance from known gorilla territories, it also strikes me as too arid to be hospitable to gorillas. I wonder if someone was trafficking animals and the gorillas got away from him.

  5. thylo responds:

    The first thing that struck me is, isn’t the entire Horn of Africa the antithesis of gorilla habitat?

    Gorilla gorilla, as we know them, inhabit wet tropical jungles, be they montane or lowland. If i am not very much mistaken, the Horn is arid to semi-arid, and lacking in dense, edible vegetation.

    If there are gorillas roaming those parts, surely they must be unfortunate escapees from some warlord’s menagerie and in dire need of rescue?

    If the mention of chimpanzees is as reported and not a flub, then the same matters of environmental hostility apply and should probably warrant concern for the animals more than excitement for a new range.

  6. cryptidsrus responds:

    DOES sound like escaped animals making their way to a new habitat, but anything’s possible. Did not know that Gorillas were thought of as disease-carriers. Great story anyway.

  7. mystery_man responds:

    Somaliland may have its share of problems, but lack of vegetation, animals, or any wet or fertile regions don’t seem to be among them. While that does seem to be the general image most have of this region, this appears to be incorrect. In fact from what I can gather, Somaliland is actually a mix of both wet and dry regions.

    A quick peruse of Wikipedia (I know, I know, I’ve been busy today Ok) brought up this.

    “Somaliland’s climate is a mixture of wet and dry conditions. The northern part of the region is hilly, and in many places the altitude ranges between 900 and 2,100 metres (3,000-7,000 ft) above sea level. The Awdal, Saaxil and Maroodi Jeex regions are fertile and mountainous, while Togdheer is mostly semi-desert with little fertile greenery around.”

    So while some areas are indeed arid, it looks like we can’t paint the whole region with that broad stroke.

    As to thylo’s comment about the lack of edible vegetation, again this is not wholly accurate. The article goes on to say-

    “Due to the fertility and greenery of some of the regions of Somaliland, wild animals (e.g. zebras) come to the area either to breed or to graze on the grassland savanna.”

    Indeed Loren mentions that the common image of this area is of one devoid of most animal life, but this also does not appear to be the case at all. Again from the same article-

    “There are many animals which are native to Somaliland. Prominent animals are the kudu, wild boar, Somali Wild Ass, warthog, antelope, the Somali sheep, wild goat, camel, lion and cheetah. There is also the largest world population of caracals in the Burco area. Moreover, many birds and different types of fish are also found in and around Somaliland.”

    As pointed out in the previous excerpt, not only are animals not all gone from this region due to migration or war, but it seems from at least this source that animals actually are coming here from other places because of the fertility of some areas.

    I am not too familiar with this particular region, and forgive the quoting from Wikipedia, but this and some other quick checks have not particularly led me to think that we are dealing with an arid wasteland without animals or suitable habitat.

    Somaliland may have its share of problems, but lack of vegetation, animals, or any wet or fertile regions doesn’t seem to be among them.

    Just some observations.

  8. Fhqwhgads responds:

    OK, so maybe there are regions that are more wet and fertile. It still seems likely that these could be considered not-very-large and/or fragmented, which would make it more difficult to sustain a native population of gorillas.

    The biggest argument against their being an indigenous gorilla population is the fact that such a population is apparently unknown among the natives. People have lived in this region for as long as there have been people, but no one noticed the gorillas? I still say escapees.

  9. DWA responds:

    What if it’s an African yeti?

    Just making a point, which is the way we tend to pigeonhole and shut off possibilities without good cause.

    There’s not enough information here to say for sure what this was; and it appears well outside known range for known apes.

    This is just like presuming that sasquatch and yeti are descended from things we already know about from fossils. Maybe they aren’t; and these don’t have to be known apes. In fact, I’d consider that a reasonable possibility to keep in mind given circumstances.

    Or it could just be wild gorillas, which would be way cool enough. Or escapees, which of course raises the question: who’s missing a gorilla?

  10. mystery_man responds:

    fhqwhgads- Yes, that is what I would have thought about Somaliland’s wet and fertile areas as well, but from what I can gather there are actually whole regions that are like this. It doesn’t seem that they are particularly sparse or fragmented any more than the arid regions are. There actually seem to be some pretty large and healthy wet region ecosystems in place in Somaliland.

    I’m of course not arguing that this means indigenous gorillas live there. These are just observations about the geography since the subject was brought up. It is merely my attempt to illustrate the landscape, which may be different than some people initially imagine it to be.

    To tell the truth, I think it would be helpful to get an idea of just what type of climate this sighting took place. For all I know it did take place in an arid region.

    Anyhow, I actually agree with you that it is unlikely that gorillas would have a natural population in Somaliland based on your point about the locals not seeing them. I would at least expect something this large to have had a history of encounters with humans. Maybe there are other reports, but none that I am aware of. Judging by the reclusive nature of the region and I’m sure lack of access to media from there to outsiders, I’m not sure if there is any way to accurately check this.

    This brings me to DWA-

    I’m not so sure that an “African yeti” is the most likely explanation here, simply because it appears that this “gorilla” is not ethnoknown. Of course, with the lack of information available out of the area, this is hard to be sure of but as it stands that seems to be the case.

    Now, there are animals that have been documented that were not ethnoknown before their discovery, but these were either animals living far from any sort of human habitation, or were elusive, smaller nocturnal animals.

    Now, I’m open to the possibility of something like this remaining undiscovered by science, howerver I’m not sure how likely it is that an animal as large as a gorilla could not only be evading discovery, but also completely living off the radar of the locals.

    I would say it is perhaps more likely that we are looking at an escaped animal. I can think of ways this could happen. In a place like Somaliland, there are most probably not a lot of enforced wildlife laws at this point. Consider the rampant illegal trade in animals such as gorillas in other parts of Africa and it is not too hard to imagine this going on in Somaliland with little to no intervention by authorities. I mean, look at all of the pirate activity in Somalia that goes on without any consequences for the perpetrators.

    In a relatively lawless land with no solid smuggling measures in place, an escaped gorilla is not so surprising. What is more surprising to me is that we ever even heard about it at all.

    So I won’t scoff at the idea of an African yeti, but looking about what we know about the region, the lack of knowledge of this animal by locals, and the seemingly solitary nature of this report, I wonder if that is the maybe not the most likely scenario in this case.

  11. DWA responds:

    m_m: As I said, just making a point.

    Which is: when something like this just pops up – and the not-ethnoknown thing strikes me just as fishy as it does you – there is no “most likely” scenario. Period. Without evidence favoring one or another, all you have is possibilities. You can’t rank them.

    Even the escapee one says: OK, anyone missing a gorilla?

    If you don’t follow up, the only conclusion that can be drawn is: that’s weird.

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