"For the first time, an Indian Army Mountaineering Expedition Team has sited (sic) Mysterious Footprints of mythical beast 'Yeti' measuring 32x15 inches close to Makalu Base Camp on 09 April 2019. This elusive snowman has only been sighted at Makalu-Barun National Park in the past."
-- The Indian Army
On the other hand ...
– The Nepal Army
OK, the Nepali Army statement was more eloquent that that, but the message was the same. Just days after a tweet about the alleged sighting of Yeti footprints in the snow had the mainstream media chattering about cryptids, spokespersons for the Nepal Army and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks melted the snow print claims. Can a war between the world’s largest democracy and the world’s highest army (in altitude, of course) be started over Yeti footprints? Stranger things have happened – ask Franz Ferdinand.
“A team of Indian Army had noticed the footprints and our liaison team was together with them... We tried to ascertain the fact, but locals and porters claimed that it is the footprints of wild bear that frequently appear in that area.”
In a “Who are you going to believe – me or your lyin’ eyes?” statement, Nepal Army spokesperson, Brigadier General Bigyan Dev Pandey, told the Hindustan Times that members of his army were in the embedded in the team that allegedly spotted the prints, and they – along with locals and porters, whom everyone who has climbed the Himalayas knows are far more knowledge than outsiders – said the 32-inch-long prints belonged to a “wild” (what other kind are there?) bear that was probably dragging its feet through the deep snow.
"According to our experts, it may be the footprint of a bear found in the Himalayas."
Director General of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Man Bahadur Khadka agrees with his army’s general. He’s referring to the Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus) or "Dzu-Teh," which can stand up to 2.2m (7 ft 3in) tall and have long been mistaken for a Yeti or Abominable Snowman.
“There is a skull and pieces of a forearm in Tengboche Monastery on the way to Everest base camp, which people claim belongs to a Yeti.”
Colonel Neeraj Rana (Ret.), a renowned Indian military mountaineer who led the 2009 Himalayan Mountaineering Institution’s Expedition to Mt Makalu, thinks the Yeti claim should not be dismissed and points out that a scientific analysis of Yeti claims is mandatory, although he doesn’t say who would conduct it. The Indian Army is not backing down on its claim that the footprints are from a Yeti -- the New Indian Express reports that an investigation by the Ministry of Defence has been requested.
Meanwhile, Brigadier General Bigyan Dev Pandey of the Nepali Army says he dealt with similar claims four years ago when a French expedition team reportedly found giant footprints and claimed they were Yeti. Wildlife experts reviewed those prints and decided they belonged to a snow bear – yet another Ursus species living in the Makalu region. Better known as the Tibetan blue bear (Ursus arctos pruinosus), it’s a rare subspecies of the brown bear and is also often blamed for Yeti sightings.
As of this writing, the battle over the Yeti footprints continues. Nepal prides itself at being a progressive country and has long had good relations with the government of India. However, that has changed recently as Nepal ha moved left while India moves right. As a result, Nepal has established closer ties with China.
Could this minor skirmish about alleged Yeti footprints escalate into something major between Nepal and India? Would China get involved? Would the U.S.?
Remember Franz Ferdinand.