WOULD THE REAL ORANGUTAN PLEASE STAND UP AND BE COUNTED?
Research in unidentified hominoids in Southeast Asia can be said to have begun in the 17th century with the works of Jakob de Bondt, alias "Bontius," a Dutch physician in Batavia (now Jakarta). But from then on, what happened in this field of research in Southeast Asia had its repercussions throughout the world to this day. To begin with, this research started here not with a whisper but with a bang: a monumental misunderstanding regarding the name Orangutan (Malay for "Man of the woods"- or "Forestman") which is still with us and which it is about time to rectify once and for all.
Bontius came to Java in 1625 and stayed there until his death in 1631. During this time he wrote the pioneering work Historiae naturalis et medicae Indiae orientalis, published only in 1658 in Amsterdam. In it, he mentions anthropomorphic hairy creatures in Java, which, although not being humans, looked and behaved like them in all respects, except that they had no language, and to which he gave the name Ourang Outang or Homo silvestris (later sylvestris). It is now generally believed, even by the most prominent Western scholars, that this was of course the first reference to the ape orang-utan (Pongopygmaeus). But this cannot be so for a number of reasons.
Bontius who himself saw several of these creatures of both sexes, only says that they were walking erect: utterly uncharacteristic for the mainly arboreal ape orang-utan that behaves awkwardly on the ground and rarely stands up at all. Furthermore, Bontius also refers back to Pliny the Elder who noted that there were, in the eastern regions of India, "Satyrs" who could run so fast that only the old and sick could be captured, and goes on to say how privileged he felt for having seen such creatures himself (although we do not know whether he had actually seen them running). However, the ability to run very fast is an attribute observed in many unidentified hominids, from the relic Neanderthal Enkidu in the Sumerian Gilgamesh epos who ran along with wild animals, to apemen in the Vietnamese Highlands chased without much success by the villagers; it is definitely not an attribute of the ape orangutan.
From two other contemporary Dutch travelers we have more information about the creatures Bontius described, confirming that they cannot be orang-utans. Thus we read that they communicate by "twittering" which is the precise word used independently by several informants describing wildmen in Indochina and the Caucasus; the noise orang-utans make has never been likened to the twitter of birds! We also read that the Javanese used to kill these apemen because they stole everything they possibly could overnight in their villages; this too, corresponds to the many reports by American soldiers in Vietnam of "gorillas" raiding their camps and is utterly unlike the behavior of orang-utans. Moreover, it is said that sometimes, instead of being killed, these hairy creatures were captured by the Javanese villagers and made to perform some manual domestic tasks such as fetching water; an orang-utan cannot do this. And finally, the arms of these apemen were said to descend to their knees; those of orang-utans are much longer.
But there is still the controversial matter of the drawing of such a female Homo sylvestris Bontius published with his report and which is generally taken to "obviously" be that of a very hairy sapiens woman because of her human limb proportions and her human vulva. Therefore, it is argued, Bontius cannot be trusted. It seems to me, however, that it was rather the draftsman who could not be trusted to have faithfully drawn, true to nature, a creature the nature of which he was not familiar with. To accuse Bontius of such a pointless misconstruction or even a deliberate attempt to trick his readers seems somewhat hasty. Incidentally, how do we know what the vulva of a Wild-woman really looks like? In any case, we may conclude that the good doctor's hairy bipedal creatures can definitely not have been orang-utans.
An early 18th century account from Borneo also strongly supports the conviction that creatures locally referred to as Forestmen cannot be the ape orang-utan. The first Englishman to write about Dutch Borneo, Captain Daniel Beeckman, notes in his A Voyage to and from the Island of Borneo (1718): "The Monkeys, Apes, and Baboons are of many different Sorts and Shapes; but the most remarkable are those they call "Oranootans," which in their Language signifies Men of the Woods: these grow up to be six foot high; they walk upright, have longer arms than man, tolerably good faces (handsomer I am sure than some Hottentots that I have seen), large teeth, no tails nor hair, but on those parts where it grows on humane bodies; they are nimble footed and mighty strong; they throw great stones, sticks, and billets at those persons that offend them." I wonder how any primatologist could really identify this tall, bipedal, nimble-footed almost glamorous"handsome" creature with a crouching longhaired hideous orang-utan. Nothing fits. This simply had to be the description of a Wildman.
Consequently, it was mainly on the strength of Bontius' report that the great Linnaeus (1707-1778), bold inventor of the order of Primates, made room in his Systema naturae for a separate human genus Troglodytes in which Homo sylvestris orang outang had pride of place. Thus, by the middle of the 18th century the existence of at least one more species of man next to Homo sapiens was generally accepted; he had found his legitimate place in Nature's complicated but nevertheless logical system and in particular in that of the primates. At the end of the chapter dealing with the classification of humans and apes in the 12th edition of his Systema, the last in his lifetime, Linnaeus wrote prophetically "what else has been revealed must be explained by theologians".
Sure enough, one of his disciples, the strongly Protestant Swabian medical professor Johann Friedrich Gmelin (1748-1804) who supervised the 13th edition of Systema naturae in 1789, took it upon himself to correct Linnaeus' views concerning humans which he thought were blasphemous and against the teaching of the Church, by simply eliminating any reference to men other than Homo sapiens from the Systema. God, Gmelin argued, created Man in His own image and this man could only have been Homo sapiens as God could not possibly look like an apeman; makes sense, does it not? A truly paradoxical situation developed therefore whereby the name Orang outang which was coined to scientifically designate a human being other than Homo sapiens, but which has always been applied by Malay speakers to various perfectly sapiens forest dwellers such as the Siamang or the Sakai, has become in the West that of the red-haired ape which at home is called by names not including the "man" component, such as mawa, maia or mias.
The unfortunate result
of this development was that in Western science the quest for Forest Man
was abandoned as useless and whenever there were rumors about such beings
in Southeast Asia it was automatically assumed that they must refer to
the incorrectly named ape orang-utan!
Whilst Java becomes more and more explored and populated, thereby gradually eliminating the Wildman population on the island, the arrival of French explorers in the remote central parts of Indochina shifts the emphasis in Wildman research now onto the Mainland. Without doubt the most famous of these early explorers was Hend Maitre who is the first to alert the general public to the existence of reddish apemen in the Vietnamese Highlands with his book Les Jungles Mol (Paris, 1912). Moreover, he informs us of the fact that these strange beings are well known to the mountain tribesmen themselves who hunt them, kill them and even eat them! Les Jungles Moi became, if not a best seller, at least a widely read book which in turn inspired the powerful work of fiction Les Dieux Rouges by Jean d'Esme (Paris, 1928). This novel in which a tribe of apemen fights it out with the local sapiens population in the Central Highlands, involving also French officers, administrators and missionaries (a passionate love-story is also included, of course), bears an eerie resemblance to the recent science-fiction novel Neanderthal by John Darnton, now being made into a film by Stephen Spielberg and thus soon advertising the possibility of Neanderthal survival to an immensely large public. One wonders what would have happened if Les Dieux Rouges had been made into a film by an enterprising French film director seventy years earlier? Perhaps the topic of Neanderthal survival into our times would by now have been part of common knowledge?
The turmoil of World
War II in Indochina, ushering in the so-called "French" Indochina
War, had as a result the increase in information about Wildmen in the
region. One of the earliest reports referring to such creatures in 1949
is contained in the book La Seconde Resistance: Vietnam 1965 (Paris,
1965) by Wilfred Burchett, the Australian journalist working behind Communist
lines. There, we have a detailed account of how a Viet Kong patrol composed
of M'nong mountain tribesmen under the command of a Vietnamese officer,
exploring the border area between Dak-Lak province in
the Central Highlands of Vietnam and Cambodia, unexpectedly met some apemen.
In the most inaccessible and totally uninhabited part of this area, the
patrol discovered to their amazement numerous human-like footprints, heard
a group of creatures fleeing through the dense bush while making noises
like "twittering" and, after having followed one very visible
track to a cave, discovered there a frightened male covered with black
fur and having his long hair falling on his shoulders. There was a kind
In an article on "Forestman" in Vietnam, published 1990 in Forestry Review (Hanoi), the late professor of zoology at Hanoi University, Dao Van Tien, proposed to reopen this burial so as to find at least the skeleton of this apeman but, half a century later, there are practically no chances to locate it again. At least this proposal shows how interested Vietnamese authorities have now become in Wildman research in their country.
Burchett's book thus seems to be the first one after Maltre's Les Jungles Moi to publicize the existence of Wildmen in the Vietnamese Highlands - but again only to a Francophone public; because, strangely enough, the entire chapter in which this significant passage occurs (Chap. X: "Du yeti aux elephants") is missing in the American edition of this book (Vietnam - Inside Story of the Guerilla War, New York, 1965), the supposedly original version, and all efforts to find out why have been in vain. It is, however, included in the Russian edition.
The Second or "American" Indochina War, with its enormous influx of American, Australian and other
(e.g. South Korean) military personnel, can be seen as the next phase
in Wildman research in Southeast Asia. There now was not only greater
awareness of the Wildman phenomenon in general because of greater exposure
to it than ever before, but also a greater interest in it stemming from
the Bigfoot vogue then in full swing in North America.
It was in this particular climate that the most momentous event ever with regard to Wildman research in Southeast Asia, nay, in the world occurred: the story of the "Iceman". Not the Iceman of the Tyrolean Alps found in 1991 who turned out to be a well-preserved specimen of a Bronze Age Homo sapiens, but the "Minnesota Iceman", the body of a recently killed apeman encased in a block of ice and shown on country fairs in the American Middle West in the late 1960s. This story is so fantastic and has been changed, embellished, falsified and misrepresented in such a way that it is well-nigh impossible to repeat and rectify it here in too short a space; it was published in full by Dr Heuvelmans in 1974 in the book L'Homme de Neanderthal est toujours vivant (Paris: Plon). Suffice it to sum up the most significant part of it.
In December 1968, Dr Heuvelmans met in New York his old friend, the science writer Ivan Sanderson who had just been told of this strange exhibit in the Middle West, whereupon the two decided to go (by car, the distance being roughly that from Rome to Stockholm!) and have a look, just in case, but not expecting anything sensational.
After having arranged with the showman, Frank D. Hansen, former US fighter pilot with connections to Vietnam, to visit the exhibit in the trailer parked at his farm in remote southeastern Minnesota, the two found themselves literally face to face with what they very soon were convinced to be an unknown hairy adult male hominid, killed by a bullet. The creature, frozen in ice in a supine position, was lying in a large coffin-like freezer through the glass top of which it could be seen as clearly as the varying opacity of the ice allowed (Fig. 8). For three days Heuvelmans photographed and sketched this body from all sides and angles so as to be able to eventually produce a reliable composite picture of it, including precise measurements. The most basic one, height, turned out to be 1.80m with knees slightly flexed and 1.84m if totally extended, thus exactly 6 feet. This must be seen as an important observation because it precludes this creature from being a Bigfoot to which a height of 8 feet to 10 feet (roughly 2.50m to 3m) is usually attributed. The fact that it showed no signs of having fangs also means that it could not be a juvenile Bigfoot either but that it must belong to the genus Homo, albeit not to the species sapiens: a true Wildman! There could be no doubt whatsoever that this was a genuine, comparatively fresh body and not a dummy, as the putrid odor of decomposing flesh could be perceived; dummies smell of rubber and not of rot! This had already been noticed by earlier visitors amongst whom the professional herpetologist Terry Cullen (he was the one who alerted Ivan Sanderson to the existence of this strange exhibit) who also observed plant matter in the teeth and shed skins of ektoparasites (lice) on the skin of this corpse, things never ever found on a dummy.
And yet, in his book Bigfoot (Abacus, 1976 - thus two years after the publication of Heuvelmans' detailed account), the world-famous primatologist John Napier, at the time director of the Primate Biology Programme at the equally world-famous Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., writes that what Heuvelmans and Sanderson saw was a "brilliantly executed model". Simply on the grounds of rumors that such a model had been fabricated in a Hollywood laboratory, the world authority on the matter who had been invited to go and see (and smell) for himself but declined, pontificates from his armchair that there never was a real body in the first place and even states rhetorically that the real puzzle is not what is exhibited in this block of ice but how these two experienced zoologists could have been so easily misled. He does not even seem to have appreciated the simple fact that the word "model" implies the existence of an original and that, while there are plenty of indications for the thing in the ice block being indeed a flesh and blood original, there is no proof whatever for the existence of a model! These supposedly scientific findings are then published, couched in condescending prose, in a widely read popular book in English while Heuvelmans' meticulously researched, thoroughly documented and truly epoch-making book in French is simply ignored. Sadly, to this day, we do not have an English translation.
However, after the specimen itself had disappeared in early 1970, all that was left were the very precise drawings and photographs by Heuvelmans which, in terms of recognition of a new species, should surely outclass any bones found in a palaeontological context (new species have been proposed and accepted on the basis of a single tooth!). And yet, when the scientific community the world over, fed by the only available information in English, that by Napier, was faced with the question of whether Homo pongoides should be admitted as a new species, the answer was the old-fashioned no, because of the lack of a type specimen! But it had been there, the specimen, for all to see who wanted to see...
Be this as it may, these pictures, i.e. the "decrypted" drawing of the dead specimen and in particular the reconstitution drawing of the living Homo pongoides by the painter Alika Lindbergh in close co-operation with Heuvelmans, were to play a pivotal role in further Wildman research in Asia. It was successfully used by Jordi Magraner in Pakistan and I used this reconstitution drawing myself more recently in Laos, in the following circumstances.
In 1995 1 was invited by "Japan TV Workshop" to be their consultant for Southeast Asia in a documentary on Wildmen throughout the world, an invitation which I of course eagerly accepted, the more so as I had just come across very interesting and promising information from impeccable sources. I also saw this as a good opportunity to support my old friend and mentor Bernard Heuvelmans by perhaps finding other surviving Homo pongoides in an area where he found out the first specimen to have come from, thereby vindicating his views to a wide public. This rugged unexplored mountainous area between what were then the Two Vietnams and Laos was precisely where my new information (but referring to the 1960s) concerning the presence of "gorillas" came from. Unfortunately, all of what I had to say in defense of Heuvelmans in this film as well as the entire footage shot in Hanoi, was eventually edited out of it so that my message did not come out in words. But I hope the results of my research speak for themselves.
The story of the confirmation of the existence of these hominids in this area thirty years later must seem just as exotic and difficult to believe as the one of the discovery of the original "Iceman". Still, there cannot be any doubt about its veracity, every detail of it having been checked and double-checked. A Hungarian count with a Phi) in anthropology who served consecutively in the Hungarian, the German, the American (Korea) and the British army (Borneo) as a commissioned officer, migrated to Australia where he did another degree and eventually returned to the US Army in Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division, as commander of a company of the Aviation Rescue and Recovery Squadron in which position he worked for eight years with mountain tribesmen in the perilous mission of rescuing shot-down US pilots or helicopter crews in a location within South Vietnam but very near the North Vietnamese and Laotian borders.
During this time (1962-1970), two incidents were of particular importance. One occurred in late 1964 or 1965 just inside Laos, about midway between Lang Mo (North Vietnam) and Ang Kham (Laos) and involved a downed helicopter the four crew members of which were found dead, obviously as a result of the crash. However, the bodies of four North Vietnamese soldiers were also found nearby without any kind of bullet or combat wounds: they seemed to have died of a broken back! When the montagnards of the rescue patrol saw this, they became very quiet, looked suspiciously around and murmured something about Wildman ...
The other incident occurred in late 1968 in a mountain area near a village on the Song Giang River in northern Quang Birth province, North Vietnam, only about 100km north of the location of the first incident. This time it involved a shot-down US fighter plane the pilot of which had ejected and was found hanging by his parachute in a tree above the river, badly wounded but still conscious. Here again, two North Vietnamese militiamen were found dead near the foot of the tree without visible wounds. When the pilot, a young Lt-Col., was cut down, he still had the force to say that it was "a big gorilla" that had killed the two Vietnamese below.
Thus, we have here two reliable indications of the presence of apemen in the Vietnam-Laos border region in the 1960s, which I, with the help of the Japanese TV team, intended to follow up. The more promising approach would have been the one on the Vietnamese side because of its more easily recognizable location and the fact that the older locals must still remember every detail of this dramatic event near their village. Unfortunately, permission to go to this area was not given and we had to devise a different strategy to get our Wildmen. In early 1996 we thus approached this same border area from the other side, from Laos, to get as near as possible to the site of the first incident. To go there, we had first to reach the provincial capital Xepon which was easy, and from there to approach the border in a northeasterly direction which was not as roads, although marked on maps, did not really exist on the ground.
However, working our way through village after distant village and from one information to the next, always asking about big apes, we eventually reached the last village before the Vietnamese border, Ban Kador (also not on any map). Here we heard from the village headman (53) that there used to be, in addition to a black almost man-sized ape (i.e. only about 1.60m as the local population is rather slim), a still larger one "as big as an American" (i.e. about 6 feet or 1.80m), called Briau. But this creature has not been seen since "The War", i.e. 1968-1970 when the area was savagely bombed, napalmed and defoliated because the Ho Chi Minh Trail went right through it. He never saw one himself but there was lots of talk about them when he was young and it was common knowledge that everybody was afraid ofBriau. A visitor from another village (45) volunteered the information that his great-grandfather had killed one of these big apes, that his grandfather had seen one and that his father still talked much about them. Briau walks upright like a man and has long arms. If the Br/au meets a lonely human he often attacks him; kills him and eats him, liking in particular the entrails; sometimes he takes a human to his cave to kill and eat him there. If the Briau is alone and encounters several humans, he generally withdraws. These fierce brutes are therefore much feared in the region and there are many stories and superstitions relating to them.
Obviously, this filmed interview on the open entrance platform of a house in the middle of the village attracted an ever increasing crowd of villagers and visitors of all ages who took a lively interest in the debate, confirming and complementing (but never contradicting!) the accounts of the main interviewees. It was entirely clear, thus, that there could not have been any foul play, any intention to mislead the interviewers or any staged performance, which would have been impossible anyway in this remote village at which our arrival was accidental and unexpected.
In order to ascertain the physical identity of the apeman we were looking for and of which/whom we only had very rudimentary information (about 1.80m. tall, dark brown to black fur with a reddish tinge, powerfully built with hardly any neck, hands going down to the knees), I had prepared a series of twelve pictures to choose from, to be submitted to anybody who had seen or heard of these creatures. They included photographs as well as drawings of the three great apes (gorilla, chimpanzee and orangutan) and reconstitution drawings of various prehistoric men, from Homo habilis to Homo erectus and beyond, including Alika Lindbergh's drawing of the living Homo pongoides. Upon showing these pictures to those who had assembled around us, asked to identify the feared Briau, everybody pointed to this latter drawing without hesitation after having carefully examined all the pictures spread out in front of them.
The conclusion seems therefore warranted that a creature very similar to or indeed identical with Homo pongoides, a relic Neanderthal known through the works by Heuvelmans from the mountains of Central Vietnam, also lived or is still living, in the mostly unexplored jungles across the border in Laos. For, while everybody agreed that Briau lived in caves in the nearby limestone mountains until the War and has not been seen since, it seems reasonable to assume that the bombing which destroyed his habitat, the local primary forest, did not necessarily kill every single Briau in it, so that some survivors could still be found in the uninhabited mountain area further to the north into which they retreated This, incidentally, is precisely the mysterious jungle zone which recently yielded several hitherto unknown species of mammals, including the up to 100kg heavy Sao La! One only has to think back to the time after World War 2 to realize that even men (e.g. Japanese soldiers) can hide in such jungles (e.g. those of the Philippines) for many years without being detected. And what about the occasional "discovery" of an unknown tribe in New Guinea: they must have been there for centuries. Why should one thus deny the possibility of the survival of Wildmen in such unexplored or very little known areas?
If we now integrate these latest findings into the body of knowledge about unidentified hominoids in Southeast Asia elaborated over the last two centuries, we see a pattern emerging which, although not very clear and still in need of confirmation in certain details, allows us to draw some conclusions which surely will stand the test of time. These are, firstly, that we are dealing here not just with one kind or taxon of Wildman. ("Forestman" or whatever other names are locally in use) but with at least three different taxa. Secondly, that not all of these can strictly speaking be termed Wildman because at least one of them, the gigantic variety (i.e. those frightening up to 3m tall colossi reported from the Himalayas, China, Burma and the Indochinese Peninsula, the Malay Peninsula, the Philippines and even Australia), is clearly not a hominid but a bipedal pongid.
The other two or three taxa, including the man-sized Homo pongoides and smaller, 1.50m or only I m tall creatures, observed in the Highlands of the southern part of the Indochinese Peninsula, on Sumatra and again in Australia, are presumably hominids, the smallest one(s) to be likened to the various pygmy races of the species Homo sapiens. With regard to the relic Neanderthal Homo pongoides one may add that because of this taxon having been attested in Vietnam and Laos as well as in northern Pakistan (research by Jordi Magraner), we now not only know that Neanderthals expanded from West Asia eastward into Southeast Asia but also which way they took to go there. Thirdly, that there seems to be some variability with regard to color of fur, size and other anatomical details even within these different taxa, again not unlike the non-uniformity which can easily be observed within any individual ethnic group of Homo sapiens. And fourthly, that all these different types and sub-types of relic hominoids spread together throughout entire Southeast Asia and even expanded into Australia, regardless of considerable climatic or topographical differences, now living everywhere side by side although there are of course certain areas where one or the other of them seem to have exclusive habitation rights.
To end, we may once again emphasize the important role Southeast Asia played and is still playing in Wildman research throughout the world, from Bontius and Linnaeus to Heuvelmans but also, alas, from Gmelin to Napier.
Captions to Illustrations
(These illustrations have not been included for space reasons; but I have written Dr. Loof-Wissova in an attempt to get these for you and upload them with this story at a future date.)
A "family" of Bornean orang-utans (after J.H. Schwartz, The Red Ape. London: Elm Tree Books/Hamish Hamilton, 1987. Drawing by LC. Anderton).
An orang-utan in typical quadrupedal stance, shuffling along on the sides of its hands and feet (after J.H. Schwartz, The Red Ape. London: Elm Tree Books/Hamish Hamilton, 1987. Drawing by J.C. Anderton).
Hairy female called Orang-outang by the Javanese and Homo sylvestris by Dr J. de Bondt alias Bontius (from his posthumous work Historiae naturalis et inedicae Indiae orientalis. Amsterdam, 1658).
The same female Homo sylvestris redrawn half a century later on the advice of the English anatomist Edward Tyson, turned around, with fig (.9) leaves added for decency, and given a male companion: the first chimpanzee scientifically described and also called Orang-outang, sire Homo sylvestris!
Here, the two appear together, as No. 1 and No. 4, on the list of anthropoid creatures to be included in the genus Homo, by Christian Hoppe alias Hoppius, published in the Swedish Amoenitates Academicae in 1763. Both figures are turned around again and her private parts, although hardly visible, are again unprotected by any leaves. Clearly, none of these figures could possibly represent the ape orang-utan.
The body proportions of the three great apes and man (from left to right: orang-utan, chimpanzee, gorilla, man), reduced to the same scale, shown without body hair, unnaturally upright and lower limbs straightened to facilitate comparison (after A.H. Sehultz, 'Die Korperproportionen der erwachsenen catarrhinen Primaten, mit spezieller Bemcksichtigung der Meusehenaffen', Anthropol. Anz., vol. 10, 1933, pp. 154-85). It is simply impossible to confound a tall upright man-like creature with an orang-utah, especially if taken into account that the latter very rarely stands up at all and never walks or even runs on two legs.
Title page of the science-fiction novel Les Dieux rouges (The Red Gods) by Jean d'Esme (pseudori. of Viscount Jean d' Esmenard). Paris: Plon, 1928. Had it been made into a film, this book, little known outside France, could have paved the way for a more general acceptance of the idea of Neanderthal survival.
The "Minnesota Iceman" in his coffin-like freezer (after B. Heuvelmans & Boris Porchnev, L 'Homme de Neanderthal est toujours vivant. Paris: Plon, 1974). This taxon was named Homo pongoides.
"Decrypted" drawing of Homo pongoides from composite photographs (after B. Heuvelmans & Boris Porchnev, L'Homme de Neanderthal est toujours vivant. Paris: Plon, 1974).
of the living Homo pongoides by Alika Lindbergh (after B.
Reconstitution drawing of the living Homo pongoides by Alika Lindbergh (after B. Heuvelmans, Les betes humaines d'Afrique. Paris: Pion, 1980).
Reconstitution drawing of the living Homo pongoides by Alika Lindbergh, modified in certain anatomical details (after B. Heuvelmans, 'Le dossier des hornroes sauvages et velus d'Eurasie', 3e millinaire, No. 28, 1993, pp. 4467).
Map of the central part of Vietnam and adjacent Laos, showing approximate location of the two US Aviation Rescue and Recovery incidents involving Wildmen or "gorillas" (established by the C.O. in question himself); note the proximity to (Muang) Xepon in Laos.
Bomb craters near a village to the northeast of Xepon, Laos, in the proximity of the Ho Chi Minh Trail (photo Helmut Loofs-Wissowa).
Bomb craters in fields to the northeast of Xepon, Laos, towards the Vietnamese border, where the Ho Chi Minh Trail passed through (photo Helmut Loofs-Wissowa).
Village to the northeast of Xepon, Laos, towards the Vietnamese border; limestone mountains in the background were the habitat of the Wildman Briau until about 1970 (photo Helmut Loofs-Wissowa).
Limestone Mountains to the northeast of Xepon, Laos, towards the Vietnamese border, these are said to have been the habitat of the Wildman Bt/mt until about 1970. Note the destroyed primary forest in the foreground (photo Helmut Loofs-Wissowa).
The newly discovered large mammal Sao La. Photo taken the day after its discovery, in the yard of the house of the Governor of Lak Sao, Laos, 12 January 1996 (photo Helmut Loofs-Wissowa).
Mountain covered with primary forest in the Vietnam/Laos border area in the vicinity of Lak Sao; essentially unexplored, this inaccessible rugged mountainous area is likely to still harbor unknown species of mammals, including Wildmen (photo Helmut Loofs-Wissowa).
with primary forest in the Vietnam/Laos border area in the vicinity of
Lak Sao; essentially unexplored, this inaccessible rugged mountainous
area is likely to still harbor unknown species of mammals, including Wildmen
(photo Helmut Loofs-Wissowa).
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