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Neither Boaring nor Boring: Johor’s Bigfoot Brouhaha

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 12th, 2006

Consider this, the first recent sightings of the Johor area "Bigfoot" took place in November 2005. Isn’t it rather amazing that the foreign media is still talking about Malaysia’s unknown hairy hominoids? And despite the fact that this has little to do with the traditional Pacific Northwest Bigfoot?

But the news organizations are, and it’s time to pass on some behind-the-scenes exclusive news for Cryptomundo readers.

Joshua Gates, 28, the host of the Sci-Fi Channel’s Destination: Truth, was one of the first American reality television filmmakers to get to Malaysia. He did this before the mild restrictions on searching for these creatures were recently put in place. His plaster cast of a large track has kept the story alive and has been shown frequently. This week Gates and his lead producer Neil Mandt tell me they wrap up edits on their forthcoming program on their expedition, and deliver it to the network next Wednesday. Stay tuned for information soon on an airdate.

Malaysia Bigfoot

Measuring 60 cm x 36 cm, the track, as you may recall, was found in Kampung Lukut by Gates and his party after combing 30 sq km of the area. Gates, who was part of a eleven member expedition from the United States, the Singapore Paranormal Investigators (SPI), and Seekers – with four investigators from Destination: Truth, three from SPI, and four from Seekers. They found 10-11 similar footprints, but most had been washed away by rain and overrun by wild boars.

The reaction to Gates’ Malaysian footcast has been the most skeptical from a rival group in Malaysia, the Asia Paranormal Investigators (API), as they are claiming his trackcast is nothing more than a "boar-cow," as they put it. The API, besides talking about boars, have also floated other theories for what the "Malaysian Bigfoot" could be. These explanations have included sun bears, orangutans, rhinos, and human mistakes.

The notion that Gate’s track find is merely the double-stepping of a Sumatran rhino has been heard perhaps the most often. But that’s not what Gates and his team think, and when I examine the cast for myself, directly, soon, I’ll have a better feel for what it might be. I will report those thoughts here, of course.

Gates and Mandt have some surprises in store, too, and everything you’ve read about Destination: Truth and their trek to Malaysia is not everything they found. Expect some new info or occurrences to be revealed on their program, as is often the case with reality television programming.

Also this week, one of the cooperative members of the Gates exploration, discussed in The Star of Malaysia that they will be doing DNA testing on the cast they collected. Local investigator Syed Abdullah Al-Attas, the host of the television program Seekers, said he hoped the print of a left foot would provide some clues about what animal made it. The Seekers group said the footprint, measuring 45.5cm by 36cm, was among several spotted by the team of investigators on February 21, 2006.

Malaysia Bigfoot Footprint DNA

Exciting Find: Syed Abdullah (left) and Dr. Kenny Fong with the cast of a footprint which is believed to belong to an unknown hairy hominoid.

“We did not find any droppings or fur. The DNA test for the footprint is our best shot at ascertaining its origins,” he said in a telephone interview.

SPI founder Dr Kenny Fong said they did not spot Bigfoot but stumbled on the prints during intermittent rain, just as the forest in Kg Lukut, Kota Tinggi was getting dark.

“We were shocked when we saw the prints. I thought to myself, ‘this thing is real’. I was pretty sure the prints did not belong to any other animal,” he said, adding that all the team members were literally jumping for joy.

According to him, there were about a dozen prints in the area, with the most distinct one having a print before and after it, spaced about 1.5m apart.

“We had to be very gentle as we didn’t want to break or destroy the purity of the print,” he said adding that the hair spray helped the soil to stick to the cast. “The bottom of the cast still has the original soil that came into direct contact with the foot.”

On March 13, in NewsAsia’s article “Investigators keen to present Bigfoot’s footprint cast to Johor government,” these investigators are trying to meet with officials in Johor, present them with a footcast, and have the ban on foreigners lifted. As the paper noted: “Ever since this expedition, the Johor State Government has banned all foreigners from going into the area. It is still opened to Malaysians but they have to pay 5 ringgit, or the equivalent of US$1.50 just to go in there and try their luck at finding Bigfoot. “

Vincent Chow of the Malaysian Nature Society was also in the news again last week, as he is one of the scientist out in the rainforest looking for signs of the creatures too. A new photograph of Chow was printed that showed him with a track.

Vincent Chow Bigfoot

Finally, the prize for the top "Malaysian Bigfoot" story this week is the one that was recycled and repeated often, worldwide. I counted 67 varied appearances of this one article from Malaysia to Missouri, from South Africa to San Francisco. It ran with this headline most frequently, "No Takers for Malaysian Bigfoot Permits," as noted in Forbes, or "No one interested in hunt for Bigfoot in Malaysia’s protected forest," as with Canada’s CBC.

Malaysia Bigfoot Permit

Basically, the media reported that the Malaysian Forestry Department said they had no takers for permits, in essence, to search for the "Malaysian Bigfoot."

Authorities printed 500 application forms anticipating a rush, but none has been filled, Che Hashim Hassan, the department’s director in the southern state of Johor, was quoted as saying. "We thought that with all the interest in Bigfoot, we would have a lot of inquiries from the public," Che Hashim said. "However, this is not the case."

But what I discovered was while this "no interest" story was getting a lot of publicity now, there was little notice of the permits when they were initially offered. Furthermore, as opposed to what is easily found for many departments of the Malaysian government, there are no email addresses published for contacting the Malaysian Forestry Department.

Are the Malaysian media getting bored with the Malaysian Bigfoot brouhaha, and trying to put it to bed with this story that sounds like some kind of manufactured closure? Humm?

How do I know this story is more fluff than factual? Well, I tried to apply for a permit, emailed multiple departments and organizations in Malaysia, and I’m still waiting for my application!

Have you received your permit yet?

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 “Neither Boaring nor Boring: Johor’s Bigfoot Brouhaha”

  1. Grendel responds:

    Could somebody explain to me how one conducts DNA testing on a plaster cast (asked the doubter rhetorically)? There has been no mention of collection of any biological material, let alone material suitable for DNA testing.

  2. Loren Coleman responds:

    The assumption is that when the plaster of Paris is poured, it will pick up any and all biological materials that may have detached from the cryptid foot into the track. This might include hair, skin, and even blood (if there were any open wounds on the foot). This is not to say there will be any of these pieces of evidence stuck in the casting medium, but that is the hope.

    When the Skookum cast was examined closely, it was found to have hair samples in the matrix of the plaster. These were tested for DNA, but the results appeared to show that human contamination had occurred.

    This foot-DNA-to-track-to-cast notion is conveyed in the quotation carried above: “The bottom of the cast still has the original soil that came into direct contact with the foot.”

  3. Grendel responds:

    Alas, virtually every square inch of any forest or jungle floor will hold biological cast-off.

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