China Bans Yeti-Hunting Safaris

14 January 1999 -- BEIJING (Agence France Presse) - China on Thursday announced its firm opposition
to tourist safaris aimed at capturing the yeti, maoran, the yeh-ren, the
abominable snowman of legend said to roam China's central mountain regions.

"Such conduct is undoubtedly wrong and is incompatible with our present need to protect the environment," Feng Zuoqian, a zoologist for the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the state-run China Daily.

According to the report, the State Forestry Administration (SFA) formally announced its opposition to local entrepreneurs eyeing potential riches in a yeti-hunting campaign during an ecological tourism symposium held Tuesday in Beijing.

Officials at the Shennongjia nature reserve in central Hubei province, where the legendary "Big Foot" has reputedly been spotted on several occasions, had proposed to hand out some 10,000 tourist permits and offer a prize of 500,000 yuan ($60,000) for the capture of the yeti.

But the SFA expressed firm opposition to the tourist safaris, stressing that the romps for holiday-makers would "have nothing to do with scientific expeditions conducted by experts."

After years of debate between pro- and anti-yeti factions in China's scientific community, Beijing authorities quashed the debate last month by announcing once and for all that the abominable snowman does not exist.

The Xinhua news agency carried on the party line Thursday, reporting that the yeti's existence had never been scientifically proven and that both a skull and a piece of the creature's hair would be necessary to prove it was real.

Several scientific expeditions have been dispatched to the Shennongjia region in attempts to corroborate peasant sightings of the man-like, two-meter (six-and-a-half-foot) high creature.

Footprints as long as 40 centimeters (16 inches), as well as thick red hairs not belonging to any identifiable animal, have also recently been discovered.

The fiery debate has not been entirely extinguished in China.

According to anthropologist Zhou Guoxing, "even if 95 percent of the reports on the existence of the wild man are not credible, it is necessary for scientists to study the remaining 5 percent."


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