It seems like the only media coverage Afghanistan gets these days is about war, terrorism and heroin, but this beautiful and ancient country has many wonderful stories to tell. Two popped up recently about little-known cryptid creatures of Afghanistan – a deer with fangs and a Bigfoot cousin known as the Barmanou.
According to an article in the November edition of the journal Oryx, the Wildlife Conservation Society says the last confirmed sighting anywhere in Afghanistan of the endangered Kashmir musk deer was over 60 years ago in 1948. The fangs or tusks were only found in males and, not surprisingly, were used to compete for females. As their name suggests, they also had musk glands which they were hunted for to extinction in Afghanistan – until a survey team spotted a male, female and juvenile in a mountainous area.
The fanged deer rediscovery brought out another cryptid story about a U.S. soldier stationed in Afghanistan in 2011 who spotted what he described as a “big monkey or ape” through an infrared scope. That sounds like a Barmanou, the “Man of the Forest” or Bigfoot believed to live in the same mountainous area on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In his interview with a Bigfoot Field Research Organization representative in 2013, the soldier said the heat signature was of a gorilla-sized bipedal creature not wearing any clothes. The Barmanou has been described as a half man and half ape, possibly related to the Neanderthal, that walks upright, makes guttural noises and emits the odor of rotting garbage. However, unlike Bigfoot or Yeti, the Barmanou is said to sometimes wear animal skin clothing and hats and kidnap human women for breeding.
In the early 1990s, Spanish zoologist Jordi Magraner and his partner, Dr. Anne Mallasseand, researched the Barmanou, collecting eyewitness accounts (Magraner's drawing above is based on one) and seeing possible footprints. When shown images of similar cryptids, witnesses thought the Barmanou most resembled the Minnesota Iceman rather than Bigfoot or Yeti. Magraner’s research ended in 2002 when he was murdered by one of his guides.
The Barmanou and the fanged Kashmir musk deer – one rumored and one rediscovered. It would be a shame if, like their beautiful country, both were destroyed by human conflict.