When the first paragraph of a news story contains the words “unusual footprints” and “heavy breathing,” is your first thought that they were made by a wild animal, a Peeping Tom or a space alien? Your answer probably depends on where you live. If that place is in Anturu village of Gadag district in Karnataka, you were probably screaming “Aliens!”
“Women and children are remaining indoors fearing the alien. The footprints found in a farm near the Boodihal mutt in the village are different from the footprints of any animals. They are much bigger in size. There is a distance of three feet between two steps. Forest officials have been informed.”
Before you uniformed non-Indians point out that the footprints were found near a mixed-breed dog, the term “mutt” in India refers to a Hindu monastic or religious establishment and is the short for of the word Matha, which also means a monastery. Now back to our alien story.
“Many women in the village said that we did not come out of the house fearing their breath.”
After sunrise, they found about 20-30 “huge” footprints which did not match any animal nor any known creature or odd-footed villager. That left “Aliens!” As word spread that morning, people from other towns came to Anturu and … you guessed it … stomped all over the alien footprints. This is why we can’t have nice things.
Fortunately, someone thought to grab a phone and take a picture of the footprints. Why only one? Apparently, they were afraid of whatever made the “unusual footprints,” with “alien” being the leading contender, since no one could identify them.
To calm things down, the local Forest Department patrolled the area at night. After just two nights, they declared the area alien-free. Yashpal Ksheersagar, Deputy Conservator of Forests, speculated on what might have made the footprints.
“It’s possible that a large wild boar may have dug up the field. Sometimes the boar, while running, paces its paws closely and it could have raised suspicion among villagers. Such prints are seen in fields when injured cattle walk. We have taken photographs and will send them to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in Dehradun for a thorough investigation and will find out the reality soon.”
“Injured cattle!” doesn’t have the same effect as “Aliens!” and the locals don’t think these are animal prints because of the wide distance between each footstep. Villager Jayprakash Nagaraddy called them “humanly impossible.”
If it’s not an animal, human or alien, what made the footprints? No one seemed to mention the Mande Barung, India’s version of Bigfoot. The “forest man” is said to stand up to 10 feet tall, a suitable height for making 3-foot strides. However, Mande Barung are said to live in northeast India and Bangladesh while Karnataka is in southwest India.
For now, Anturu villagers who hear heavy breathing at 2 am are advised to, before screaming ‘Aliens!’, make a sound like a cow or whisper, “Is that you, honey?”