Kolkata Hyena Revisited

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 8th, 2011

Okay, we in the West are now fully aware that Mumbai formerly was Bombay.

Do you know what Kolkata use to be?

Kolkata is the Bengali for and proper name now for what formerly was “Calcutta.” Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, located in eastern India on the east bank of the River Hooghly.

What would a hyena be doing there? Okay, being a hyena, I guess. In January 2009, two years ago, there were sightings of a hyena in Kolkata. No followup. No more news of these accounts. Is it a cryptid? Or an out-of-place cryptid. I thought I would check in again with this report, and ask Cryptomundians, anyone hear any more on this one?

In general, hyenas are most often associated with Africa, of course, with the exception of the striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) which is an omnivorous mammal of the family hyaenidae. It lives in Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan and western India.

The striped hyena is the second largest hyena species, being intermediate in size to the spotted or laughing hyena (Crocuta crocuta) and the brown hyena (Hyaena brunnea, formerly Parahyaena brunnea), both of which live in Africa.

The Indian subspecies is the Hyaena hyaena hyaena (Linnaeus, 1758).

Seeing one in Kolkata would be quite remarkable. Perhaps not as incredible as seeing an African-type lion in Colorado, but very noteworthy, nevertheless.

Was it a dog? Was it a jackal? No, it was a ‘hyena’ – seen from a plane. At least that’s what the pilot flying an Nagpur-Kolkata Indigo aircraft thought he saw on the runway moments before touchdown on Tuesday evening [20 January 2009].

He promptly reported the sighting – probably a stray dog or one of the jackals that live in the airport grounds – to air traffic control. Officials in the control tower asked a Jet Airways flight from Mumbai, scheduled to land in a few minutes at 6.50 pm, to hover over the city. As an inspection was carried out to check for the presence of the animal, the Jet flight was delayed by 10 minutes.

Airport officials later said they immediately carried out a spot verification on the runway, but could not find any animal. TNN

“Pilot reports ‘hyena’ on Kolkata runway,” 22 January 2009, The Times of India

Thanks to Paul Cropper, coauthor of The Yowie: In Search of Australia’s Bigfoot, for passing this one along.

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.

3 Responses to “Kolkata Hyena Revisited”

  1. dogu4 responds:

    As crowded as India seems from our perspective, it is a large landmass (a subcontinent in fact) with significant areas that are unoccupied by modern settlements, and nocturnal animals are largely unobserved. The idea of relic populations going un-recognized sounds not altogether unlikely there.

  2. MattBille responds:

    I can’t help thinking of the classic exchange between the control tower and a pilot at the Anchorage, Alaska airport:

    Tower: “Bear left at the taxiway.”
    Pilot: “Yeah, we see him.”

  3. ottmandus responds:

    was watching travel channel and they showed a hyena like creature. I saw a similiar creature on Ft. Carson in Colorado. It was the same purplish color and ran unlike any dog or coyote. I have only seen it once but ran into one other guy who claims to have seen it

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