One of the lesser known Asian hominids is the Mande Burung of northeastern India.Said to roam the subtropical rain forests of Meghalaya,particularly the western region of the Garo hills.Reports and sightings are rare,however, curiosity got the better of me and I ended up visiting the area in April 2011.
The most challenging aspect of organizing an investigation into this region is the ongoing violence between the Garo and Khasi ethnic groups.When this does occur the state is closed off to foreigners.About 3 months prior to my arrival there were a series of deadly clashes which I was sure would prevent me from entering, luckily things calmed down and I was able arrive in the town of Tura via Guwahati without incident.An interesting note is that the Garo people are said to be of Tibetan ancestry while the Khasi have roots in Burma and headhunting was still known in the early 1960s.
Once there I was able to organize several long hikes into the forest.The park is famous for the endangered western hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock) which are heard more often than seen. I was also prepared to do a multi-day trek across the park but was told there was only one full-time professional guide in the region and he was currently trekking in the Khasi Hills and needed to be booked several weeks in advance.
Strangely enough none of the locals seemed to know much or care about the Mande Burung. I did meet a government botanist carrying out a taxonomy survey in the park and when I brought up the subject of a yeti-like creature inhabiting the area he shook his head in disgust and told me it was nonsense.However,a few days later as I was wandering the outskirts of Tura I met and chatted with a local outdoor enthusiast who had camped and hiked most of the national parks in Meghalaya.He told me that some villagers believed that a chimpanzee-like creature did inhabit the deep jungle and from time to time would raid crops that fringed the forest.
Other than that I was unable to extract any additional info from the locals.
Will I return one day?Probably,as I was there during my “pre-trail cam period” and I would love to do a hi-tech expedition,which to the best of my knowledge has not been attempted. (Mr. Dan)