Monday, 7 May 2012
In India a bandicoot is a large rat, in Australia it is a marsupial. Americans call an elk a moose, a red deer an elk, and a bison a buffalo. In Spain and Portugal a tigre is a tiger; in Latin America it is a jaguar.
What has this got to do with the issue of this post? Simple. Across the length of the Himalayas there are a host of mutually incomprehensible languages, and consequently a host of different names for a legendary giant primate unknown to science. Westerners have adopted one of these words, “yeti” and translated another as “abominable snowman”, and use these as catch-all terms for the animal. But how do we know that all these words refer to the same thing, or even that they are used consistently in the same language? We know that Reinhold Messner, for example, has made a good case (My Quest for the Yeti, 1998) that a couple of these words refer to the brown bear.
Therefore, we must be grateful for the work of the late Jordi Magraner, the Catalan-born French zoologist who so meticulously researched the issue in Chitral, the narrow triangle of Pakistan squeezed between Kashmir and Afghanistan. During two expeditions into the region, he managed to locate, and question in their own languages, more than two dozen people who had actually seen the mysterious creature, and obtained information on 63 separate characteristics. He continued to make expeditions into the region, where he was eventually murdered in 2002.
The following is a translation of his 1991 report. The original was sent to me by Michel Raynal, to whom I am grateful.
This is a two part post which, like the post on the creatures of the Caucasus, is published in a format such that they can be read in the correct order.
The Possum Book
I am pleased to provide a link to a website of a friend of mine, Robyn Tracey, who has written a fascinating story about her dealings with brush-tailed possums in the outer suburbs of Sydney. You can download the book for free, or read it on the site. Go to: The Possum Book.
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