'Bigfoot' sightings in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur - Excitement is mounting in Malaysia over claims of "Bigfoots" lurking in its southern jungles.

Wildlife experts are on the hunt for the mythical beast and a telephone hotline has been set up to report sightings.

Bigfoot fever erupted last month when fish farm workers claimed to have spotted three of the beasts - two adults and a youngster - on the edge of a forest reserve in the southern Johor state.

Their improbable tale was lent some authority soon after when a member of the Orang Asli indigenous ethnic group, known for their expertise in the jungle, also said he had stumbled across one of the legendary ape-men.

Johor national parks director, Hashim Yusoff, says the man describes the creature as hairy, brownish in colour, and about four metres tall.

Hashim said: "It was not aggressive, but the Orang Asli was startled by the creature and ran away.

"My personal feeling is that there is a possibility it could be what we call in Malaysia the 'mawas' which is more of a primate.

Sightings go back decades

"But we don't deny the sightings, we've got to prove it and we've got to do it scientifically."

Wildlife authorities are considering mounting camera traps to capture images of anything roaming the jungles.

The Malaysian press has given prominent coverage to reports of sightings, including some which date back decades, and printed photographs of supposed footprints - vague impressions in the mud and leaves on the jungle floor.

Johor is home to large tracts of jungle, including its famed Endau-Rompin National Park, and unconfirmed sightings of large creatures surface periodically.

This week, former zoologist Amlir Ayat, said he had come close to finding proof of the existence of "Bigfoot" five years ago after villagers claimed to have shot a huge hairy creature in the jungles of neighbouring Pahang state.

Ayat said: "The creature fell to the ground with a great thud and the villagers took to their heels. Later, when they returned to check if it was dead, they found the body still lying there."

Amlir said he was only told of the shooting a year later. He and the villagers mounted a search for the remains of the creature but found none.

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