Just recently I took part in a debate on a UK-based morning radio-show. The subject was Britain's so-called "Alien Big Cats," or ABCs - large cats of the kind that have no business roaming the wilds of the nation. But which are seemingly doing exactly that. The debate then got into a wider issue. What happens if we find undeniable proof of the existence of one or more so-called cryptids? We're talking about a Bigfoot, a Loch Ness Monster, or a Yeti (the list goes on and on, of course).
I said to the two hosts that we should always remain hopeful, but the reality of the situation is that we have utterly failed - so far - to make a 100 percent solid case that these things exist. My personal opinion is that the lack of any hard proof is due to the beasts being something more (or less) than mere flesh and blood, rather than being due to bad luck.
With that said, however, there is one legendary creature that I think has zero connections to the world of the paranormal and which will, one day soon, very likely be captured and identified. And I hope it will be quickly released back into the wild too, as we definitely don't want a repeat of the Cecil the lion tragedy. The cryptid I'm referring to is Orang Pendek. All of which brings me to a friend of mine, Richard Freeman.
Richard - of the Center for Fortean Zoology, and formerly a head-keeper at England's Twycross Zoo - has been on a number of expeditions to the island of Sumatra in search of the Orang Pendek. Having collected an absolute mass of very impressive reports, credible on-the-record testimony, and numerous stories, Richard published his findings in a 2011 book. Its title: Orang Pendek: Sumatra’s Forgotten Ape.
Richard says of his quest to find the answers behind the mystery: “We are impressed by big things; dinosaurs, whales, rhinos, super-tankers, skyscrapers. Mention mystery apes to the man in the street and he will imagine bipedal hairy giants, 10 feet tall. Indeed most reports of such things speak of massive animals; the Yeti, the Yeren, the Sasquatch, and the Yowie.”
He continues: “But for every Bigfoot there is a Littlefoot. Stories of little hairy men are widespread - but none are as famous as Sumatra’s Orang Pendek.” As for the specific nature of the Orang Pendek, here’s what Richard has to say: “Orang Pendek means ‘short man’ in Indonesian. The creature is said to be powerfully built and immensely strong but relatively short at around 4½ to 5ft in height. It walks upright like a man and rarely, if ever, moves on all fours.”
As Richard has come to learn during the course of his various expeditions, the Orang Pendek is “…generally said to have dark brown or black fur but honey colored or reddish hair has been reported. Sometimes a long mane of hair that falls down to the shoulders is also mentioned. The Orang Pendek generally seems to be a solitary creature, though there are rare reports of groups of them being seen together.”
CFZ Press note of Richard's book that it "...looks at the history of sightings of the Orang Pendek; similar creatures across the world; has in-depth accounts of the author’s four CFZ expeditions in search of the creature; and finally analyses the evidence to produce a cogent theory as to what the elusive short man of the forest might actually be.”
If all of that has caught your attention - and you’re interested in learning much more about a mysterious ape that isn’t Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman - then I most definitely recommend you get hold of a copy of the book at the earliest opportunity. It is written skillfully, and in an entertaining fashion, and by someone who knows his way around the island of Sumatra.
Finally, I believe Richard has made a solid case that Orang-Pendek will be found - and sooner rather than later. I may be wrong, but I have a strong suspicion that it won't be long before this mysterious, little beast is a mystery no more.