KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's southern Johor State government said yesterday it would launch its first official effort to track down the mysterious "Bigfoot" creatures said to be roaming its jungles.
Johor Chief Minister Abdul Ghani Othman said scientists and national park officials would try to track the hairy man-like beasts, which have generated intense interest from wildlife experts at home and internationally.
"We have obtained descriptions of the creature from those who claimed to have seen it... we hope the expedition will be able to prove its existence," Abdul Ghani told the country's Bernama news agency.
A Johor state official, who did not wish to be named, said a state councillor had been tasked with assembling a team to carry out the investigation, which follows numerous reports of Bigfoot sightings in recent months.
"This is the first time the state is going to look into it officially," he said.
"They have to do it in a proper way according to scientific approaches," he said, adding that no date had been set yet for the first foray.
Johor is home to large tracts of jungle, including its famed Endau-Rompin National Park, and unconfirmed sightings of large creatures surface periodically there.
Bigfoot fever erupted last month when some workers claimed to have spotted three of the beasts, two adults and a youngster.
The improbable tale was given wide coverage in the national press which also printed photographs of supposed footprints vague impressions in the jungle floor.
Wildlife authorities have been searching the forest to verify the claims, and also set up a telephone hotline for members of the public who claim to have seen the beast to relate their stories.
Vincent Chow, an environmentalist who has been lobbying the government to look into the claims, hailed the move as the world's first government-led investigation into Bigfoot.
"We are the first country in the world to openly welcome suggestions to study whether this creature exists or not," he said.
Chow said he was working with Johor officials to work out the details of the probe, and that the study would be a serious long-term effort to track down the creatures and list them among Malaysia's fauna.
"We are seeing how best we can formulate an approach that will not be threatening or harmful to the animal," he said.
Sightings of mythical ape-like creatures have been reported in wilderness areas all over the world. They are known as Bigfoot or Sasquatch in the United States and Canada, and yetis in the Himalayas.
Source: China Daily