Friday, 30 November 2007

FIRST VIDEO RELEASED FROM THE EXPEDITION

PRE-ORDER THE BOOK OF THE EXPEDITION...

SynopsisThe Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] is the only professional, scientific and full-time organisation in the world dedicated to cryptozoology - the study of unknown animals. Since 1992, the CFZ has carried out an unparalleled programme of research and investigation all over the world. In November 2007, a five-person team - Richard Freeman, Chris Clarke, Jon Hare, Lisa Dowley and renowned humorous journalist Paul Rose, probably better known as `Mr Biffo` went to the South American country of Guyana, in search of a number of mystery animals.

They have obtained a wealth of anecdotal evidence for the existence of the three animals that they went there to investigate.

+ Didi
+ Giant anaconda
+ Water tiger

They have secured this evidence in the form of filmed interviews with eye-witnesses in this remote part of rural Guyana.Amongst these are two chilling accounts of young women being abducted by the didi (pronounced ‘die die’).

Kenard, one of their guides, introduced the team to a local man called Elmo. Elmo is very familiar with the water tiger and the giant otter. He says that the water tiger is a spotted animal with markings similar to those of a jaguar. They are aquatic, hunt in packs, and – somewhat peculiarly – he claims that the pack is led by an alpha animal that he refers to as ‘the master’, who orchestrates the hunting which is done by the younger members of the pack. Kenard apparently confirmed this statement, which – to the best of our knowledge – has never been published in Europe or the United States before.

None of these stories have been published in Europe or America before. Perhaps the most important results so far are evidence for two completely hitherto unknown animals: a tiny brown crocodile, and a three-foot high hairy creature that walks upright like a man, and has a bright red face. They also have secured the first video footage of a living specimen of a recently discovered species of green scorpion.

As part of our committment towards sharing our findings, the CFZ will be publishing the results on the expedition in book form early in the New Year.

This is your chance to pre-order it at a special low price. Orders received before the end of the year will be post free.....

Expect the book early in 2008.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=150189932750

Thursday, 29 November 2007

THE FIRST PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE GUYANA EXPEDITION

The team at Point Ranch - [L-R] Richard, Lisa, Paul, Joseph (guide), Jon and Chris

Biffo with an unusual colour morph of the rainbow boa


Damon following the track of an anaconda


The boy Freeman looking intrepid


Crossing the Esquibo River in a dilapidated bus




Wednesday, 28 November 2007

THEY ARE BACK, AND THEY ARE SAFE...


Richard is now back here at the CFZ. He told us his adventures and we have seen the first hundred pictures. He is absolutely exhausted, but we will start posting his first-hand reports tomorrow. In the meantime, here is the mock-up of the cover of the expedition report. You will be able to preorder it from tomorrow....

Monday, 26 November 2007

RICHARD FREEMAN: More about the red faced dwarfs...

Richard has just eMailed us:

"We are now in Georgetown.

Prior to flying back we met an old rubber tapper in the tiny airport at Lethem. He told us that he too had see one of the little red faced men or 'bush men'. He was a boy and was out hunting with his father (he is 59 now) when he saw a tiny red faced man looking at him through the undergrowth. He, unlike the other witnesses, thought that it had hairy skin. This may indicate it might have been wearing somthing rather than going naked as the other witnessses said. He also said it ran off on all fours.

Could this have been a red faced black spider monkey? They don't occur in this part of the country now, as it is too arid. I suppose we will never know for sure.

Spent some time back in Damon's village. I spoke with Foster's father, Joseph. He had heard of the DiDi but had never seen one. He said that befor the village was errected the red faced men were known in the area. They liked to wrestle humans and were very strong. The way to defeat one was to topple it over as it had no knees and could not rise up again (once again the legs not bending motif). His father told him that a water tiger once lived in a cave in the area. It was large and dark furred. It was supposed to be dangerous. The largest anaconda he had seen was 23 feet. It had been washed into the village by floods about ten years ago."

THE KIDS OF WOOLSERY GET IN ON THE ACT

In the North-Devonshire village of Woolsery there has only been one topic of conversation for the past few weeks; the Guyana expedition. Five intrepid monster hunters are currently enduring the baking heat and wild terrain of the South American country, rooting out witness reports of giant anacondas, the monstrous yeti-like dai-dai, a large water dwelling beast known as the water tiger, fearsome red-faced pygmies and a diminutive two-tailed caiman-like creature unheard of by anyone outside of Guyana before this expedition.

The expedition is being run by the Woolsery-based Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] and when the young Braund-Philips brothers – Greg (9) Ross (12) and David (15) – read yesterday about how discussions regarding the expedition have taken over The Farmer’s Arms, the village’s pub, they wanted to get in on the action too.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket




Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket



Since the expedition set off, they have been avidly following the team’s adventures on the expedition’s blog (http://cfzguyana.blogspot.com/) and drawing pictures of the fascinating creatures they have read about. As well as the mysterious animals mentioned above, the boys were particularly excited to hear about how the explorers had taken the first video footage of a newly discovered green scorpion. As a result, Ross – a keen amateur naturalist - now wants to start keeping and breeding pet scorpions, although his parents might have other ideas!

The expedition was sponsored by video games manufacturer Capcom to tie-in with their new game Monster Hunter 2: Freedom for the Playstation Portable allowing the CFZ, the world’s largest mystery animal research group, to undertake its most ambitious expedition to date.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket




Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket




Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket




Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

PAUL ROSE: Here's how I ended up in Barbados.

Here's how I ended up in Barbados.

We had to weigh up the decision whether or not to get the bus (I use the term loosely - it's like something out of Mad Max) back from Lethem, to Georgetown. On the outward journey our first bus had broken down, and the replacement bus almost lost a wheel at one point. Plus, for ventilation the windows are kept open at all times, and when you're driving for 15 hours on a dust road you come out the other end looking like you've just been swept off to Oz in a tornado, sans the protective shell of a Kansas homestead. We didn't want to be flying for 12 hours in that condition - IF the bus had even got us to Georgetown on time. Which, Damon said, was doubtful.

We enquired about flights from Lethem's airfield, but the flight for the day we needed was booked up, and the only available flight was Friday. Just so happened that they had five seats (and space for a consignment of very noisy macaws). It was a tiny plane, and like every other vehicle we'd been in, it seemed to be falling apart. I was sat behind the pilot, and just as we took off, the entire back of his seat sheared off, and fell in my lap. I had to hold onto it for the duration of the journey.

Nobody wanted to go back - especially not as we'd just gotten into the rainforest, and started to hear tales of the Dai Dai in the mountains outside Lethem, and so we started talking about maybe getting our flights brought forward, and possibly having a day or two in Barbados, as a sort of reward for what we'd been through. Unfortunately, when we enquired about flights, there was only one seat on the plane out of Georgetown to Barbados (where our flight to Heathrow is booked to leave on Tuesday), and - once they'd done the sums - I was the only one left with enough money to pay the required fee.

I confess, the thought of seeing my kids again somewhat took the sting out of finishing the expedition before the others, but my insane and scary night on my own in Georgetown, and the fact I couldn't get my connecting flight to Heathrow moved forward, have put paid to that! Hey ho. Worse places to get stranded.

Damon very kindly arranged for the others to stay with his family in Pakuri (also known as St. Cuthbert's Mission), which was out of the question for me, as I'd given almost all of my camping gear to Damon as a thankyou (and he was back in Lethem still - and I didn't want to stay in Georgetown if I could help it).The guys started talking about whether they could follow up on the leads they'd got when we'd first been in Pakuri. We'd heard reports of a girl being abducted by a "big, hairy man", in a village 30 miles from Pakuri. Plus, they were planning to get some footage of anacondas, which had been seen in the grasslands around the village. This was their plan for the weekend, but we should know more on Tuesday, when they fly back. I'll drop you a line tomorrow with more.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

A VISIT TO THE PUB...


"Well done Guys"



Graham Inglis writes:






"Aafter hearing of the trials and tribulations being endured by the Guyana expedition the regulars at the CFZ’s local bar demonstrated their support for the intrepid team. Today saw an international flavour at the Farmer’s Arms, where the punters wore Japanese tshirts promoting the expedition, and CAPCOM - a computer games company whose funding enabled 5 British lads and lasses (well, one lass) to explore the wildlands of Guyana.

Following news various injuries, including a broken thumb, heatstroke, and a “manky” foot, but celebrating the successes of the expedition, Allan and Jennie pulled pints of lager for us back at base to drink to their health.

A number of locals enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon drink were surprised when we arrived with a big box of tshirts but entered into the spirit of the thing and donned them.....






(See Press Release below)

Another Press Release..

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 2007-11-25

TINY RURAL VILLAGE SUPPORTS MONSTER HUNTER TEAM

After nearly a fortnight, the five person team from the Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] – the world’s largest mystery animal research group, are beginning their long journey home from the wilds of Guyana.

One member, Paul Rose, has already flown to Barbados, and the rest of the team are making their way back to the Guyanian cpital, Georgetown.

Initial reports from the team seem very exciting. They have obtained a wealth of anecdotal evidence for the existence of the three animals that they went there to investigate.+ Didi+ Giant anaconda+ Water tigerThey have secured this evidence in the form of filmed interviews with eye-witnesses in this remote part of rural Guyana.Amongst these are two chilling accounts of young women being abducted by the didi (pronounced ‘die die’). None of these stories have been published in Europe or America before. Perhaps the most important results so far are evidence for two completely hitherto unknown animals: a tiny brown crocodile, and a three-foot high hairy creature that walks upright like a man, and has a bright red face. They also have secured the first video footage of a living specimen of a recently discovered species of green scorpion.

Over a thousand people a day have been checking into the expedition website http://cfzguyana.blogspot.com/ to keep up with news of the expedition, but the team also have vociferous support from people in the tiny North Devon village of Woolfardisworthy, where the CFZ is based.

Sunday lunchtime saw Allan and Jennie Lindsay, the landlord and landlady of The Farmers Arms, and their 8 year old daughter Clarissa, together with Angi Keen, the barmaid and quite a few of the customers, donning T Shirts commemorating the groundbreaking cryptozoological expedition, which is sponsored by Capcom – one of the world’s leading video game manufacturers, to celebrate the release of a new game `Monster Hunter 2` for the PSP.

Images are available. Please telephone Jon or Corinna on 01237 431413.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

+ The Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] is the world’s largest mystery animal research organisation. It was founded in 1992 by British author Jonathan Downes (48) and is a non-profit making (not for profit) organisation registered with H.M. Stamp Office.
+ Life-president of the CFZ is Colonel John Blashford-Snell OBE, best known for his groundbreaking youth work organising the ‘Operation Drake’ and ‘Operation Raleigh’ expeditions in the 1970s and 1980s.
+ CFZ Director Jonathan Downes is the author and/or editor of over 20 books. Island of Paradise, his first hand account of two expeditions to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in search of the grotesque vampiric chupacabra, will be published in early 2008.
+ The CFZ have carried out expeditions across the world including Sumatra, Mongolia, Guyana, Gambia, Texas, Mexico, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Illinois, Loch Ness, and Loch Morar.+ CFZ Press are the world’s largest publishers of books on mystery animals. They also publish Animals & Men, the world’s only cryptozoology magazine, and Exotic Pets, Britain’s only dedicated magazine on the subject.
+ The CFZ produce their own full-length documentaries through their media division called CFZtv (http://www.cfztv.org/). One of their films Lair of the Red Worm which was released in early 2007 and documents their 2005 Mongolia expedition has now been seen by nearly 30,000 people.
+ The CFZ is based in Jon Downes’ old family home in rural North Devon which he shares with his wife Corinna (51). It is also home to various members of the CFZ’s permanent directorate and a collection of exotic animals.
+ Corinna and Jonathan Downes are shareholders in Tropiquaria – a small zoo in North Somerset (http://www.tropiquaria.co.uk/).
+ Jonathan Downes presents a monthly web TV show called On the Track (http://cfzmonthly.blogspot.com/) which covers cryptozoology and work of the CFZ.+ The CFZ are currently building a Visitor Centre and Museum in Woolsery, North Devon.
+ Each year the CFZ presents an annual conference (http://www.weirdweekend.org/)
+ Following their successful partnership with Capcom (http://www.capcom.com/) on the 2007 Guyana expedition, the CFZ are looking for more commercial sponsors.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

One down - four to go...

We are in email contact with Paul Rose. The team are on the way back. Paul has flown back to Barbados, while Richard, Lisa, Chris and Jon, together with their guides and hunters are apparently still in Guyana.

Details are scanty at the moment, but we will tell you more as we can.

Paul writes:

"For me, the single weirdest thing has been the red-faced "bush people" who are pretty much accepted as fact by more or less everyone we met. While descriptions of the Dai Dai and the water tiger varied (though in the former case everyone described them as "big, hairy, men"), and the giant anaconda is a bit difficult to pin down (as it were), size-wise, the bush people were very consisent.

Even our guide, Damon, who hadn't really commented on anything monster-wise, eventually admitted to having seen one. And being a tribal chieftan he's very respectful of such things. Last night, while the others went to Pakuri, I stayed at the home/insect-ridden hovel of a guy called Marvin (neither paranoid, nor an android), who was an Arawak like Damon. He now lives in the centre of Georgetown, and has kind of turned his back on the whole Amerindian thing to a degree. I asked him about the Dai Dai, and just kind of laughed, and said that he doesn't think it exists (the first person we'd met to say that - but he was undoubtedly the most urbanised person I'd spoken to about it), but when I brought up the bush people he just kind of shrugged, and said "Yeah, they're real. They're like little, uncivilised people, who paint their faces red, like tobacco, and don't wear no clothes. Like pygmies".

Which I found rather interesting..."


He continues:

"It was absolutely the toughest thing I've ever done, certainly physically, and - at times - emotionally too. Without question. The day we had on the savannah, following the anaconda/caiman hunt in the morning, was just unbearable, and the four mile-plus walk that evening - with heatstroke, nausea, dizziness, was the closest I've ever come to thinking I was going to die. Properly, genuinely, die. That and the fact that every vehicle we boarded seemed to break down in the middle of nowhere, in the blazing sun. Part of the reason we were all going to come back early is because the bus between Lethem and Georgetown is so desperately unreliable. They had to send out a replacement for us 90 minutes into our journey, and then the replacement nearly lost a wheel, and the drivers didn't have the correct tools to tighten it back on (hence we flew back from Lethem, so that we didn't miss our flights home - but the only flight we could get back was on Friday morning). It's a true third world country, with all the challenges that entails. Just the lack of proper roads, and the constant uneven surfaces, are killer. My virtually pristine, all-too-un-broken boots that I took out with me are coming back looking like they've been through a combine harvester.

The day we interviewed Ernesto Faris at his fish farm, and he took us to see the two-tailed red caiman cave was a particular highlight for me. Stepping into that jungle clearing, the caves in front of us, was pure The Lost World/Indiana Jones - vampire bats, anthills up to my shoulder, underground waterfalls. Incredible. And being the only people outside of Taushida to ever see the burial pots atop Taushida Mountain was pretty close to a highlight of my life. Could've done without being passed the skull of a tribal chieftan's son to hold, but it was a breathtaking moment. Nearly died on the way down, mind, but that was pretty much a daily occurence for most of us.

Spirits remained mostly high, though we were all dreadfully fatigued towards the end. Not so much physically, just worn down overall I think. And the guys over there probably still are, I'm just lucky enough to have been able to get somewhere civilised (and have had enough spare money left to have afforded to do so), as a sort of decompression chamber before I re-enter the real world."

Friday, 23 November 2007

GUYANA MONSTER HUNTERS ‘PHONE HOME

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 23rd November 2007

GUYANA MONSTER HUNTERS ‘PHONE HOME

Five British explorers from The Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ], based in rural North Devon, are deep in the little known grasslands of Guyana, South America on the track of unknown animals. The expedition is sponsored by Capcom, one of the world’s leading video game manufacturers, and is led by Richard Freeman (37) a British zoologist and explorer.

The team have been in the wilds of South America for over a week now, and despite setbacks such as injury, heatstroke, equipment malfunction, and even a burgeoning political crisis which many commentators have described as an “invasion” of Guyana by neighbouring Venezuela, their initial findings appear remarkable.

They have obtained a wealth of anecdotal evidence for the existence of the three animals that they went there to investigate.

+ Didi
+ Giant anaconda
+ Water tiger

They have secured this evidence in the form of filmed interviews with eye-witnesses in this remote part of rural Guyana.

Amongst these are two chilling accounts of young women being abducted by the didi (pronounced ‘die die’). None of these stories have been published in Europe or America before.

Perhaps the most important results so far are evidence for two completely hitherto unknown animals: a tiny brown crocodile, and a three-foot high hairy creature that walks upright like a man, and has a bright red face. They also have secured the first video footage of a living specimen of a recently discovered species of green scorpion.

The team do not return to the UK until Wednesday, 28th November, so there is plenty of time for you to join the thousands of people worldwide who follow their adventures on http://cfzguyana.blogspot.com/

CFZ Director Jonathan Downes is available for interview, and photographs of expedition members, and other images, are also available. Please telephone Jon or Corinna on 01237 431413.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

+ The Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] is the world’s largest mystery animal research organisation. It was founded in 1992 by British author Jonathan Downes (48) and is a non-profit making (not for profit) organisation registered with H.M. Stamp Office.
+ Life-president of the CFZ is Colonel John Blashford-Snell OBE, best known for his groundbreaking youth work organising the ‘Operation Drake’ and ‘Operation Raleigh’ expeditions in the 1970s and 1980s.
+ CFZ Director Jonathan Downes is the author and/or editor of over 20 books. Island of Paradise, his first hand account of two expeditions to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in search of the grotesque vampiric chupacabra, will be published in early 2008.
+ The CFZ have carried out expeditions across the world including Sumatra, Mongolia, Guyana, Gambia, Texas, Mexico, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Illinois, Loch Ness, and Loch Morar.
+ CFZ Press are the world’s largest publishers of books on mystery animals. They also publish Animals & Men, the world’s only cryptozoology magazine, and Exotic Pets, Britain’s only dedicated magazine on the subject.
+ The CFZ produce their own full-length documentaries through their media division called CFZtv (http://www.cfztv.org/). One of their films Lair of the Red Worm which was released in early 2007 and documents their 2005 Mongolia expedition has now been seen by nearly 30,000 people.
+ The CFZ is based in Jon Downes’ old family home in rural North Devon which he shares with his wife Corinna (51). It is also home to various members of the CFZ’s permanent directorate and a collection of exotic animals.
+ Corinna and Jonathan Downes are shareholders in Tropiquaria – a small zoo in North Somerset (http://www.tropiquaria.co.uk/).
+ Jonathan Downes presents a monthly web TV show called On the Track (http://cfzmonthly.blogspot.com/) which covers cryptozoology and work of the CFZ.
+ The CFZ are currently building a Visitor Centre and Museum in Woolsery, North Devon.
+ Each year the CFZ presents an annual conference (http://www.weirdweekend.org/)
+ Following their successful partnership with Capcom (http://www.capcom.com/) on the 2007 Guyana expedition, the CFZ are looking for more commercial sponsors.

Competition winners

Hi guys,

I was heartened by the response to our ‘Gerald Durrell Anteater Competition’, but it was not as simple to produce a winner as I thought it would be. First of all, I had forgotten that Gerald Durrell had, in fact, captured two giant anteaters, and so, whereas the answer I was looking for had been ‘Sarah Huggersack’, I was also forced to admit that the answer ‘Amos’ was equally as valid. To make things even more complicated, two people gave the answer ‘Amos’ almost instantaneously, and I feel that it would be unfair not to give them both a prize. So, instead of one prize-winner, there are three:

M J Cotterill
Pete Thiel
Alan Byrne


Well done guys. You have all been contacted by email.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

DAY EIGHT: “Bloody hell, Jon, this place is a cryptozoological treasure trove!”

Finally! After a silence of 48 hours, which – considering the burgeoning political crisis in Guyana – I have to admit was being to make me seriously worried. So worried that – without meaning to – this must have communicated itself in my blog posts. We had carefully done our best not to put our worries into writing because some of the team have families back in the UK and two of them have small children. I am sure that said families are reading this blog for news of their loved ones and we did not want to cause undue alarm at such an early stage. Mrs. Biffo would never have forgiven us.

However, some of our concern must have leaked through, because at teatime this evening, we had a ‘phone call from veteran cryptozoological explorer Adam Davies, who ‘phoned to give us his support and offer any help that he could. God bless you Adam. We were fairly sure, however, that the information black-out was called by technical reasons, and the fact that this evening’s bulletin was received in nearly a dozen tiny ‘phone calls lasting less than a minute each, as the sat. ‘phone kept on cutting out, would tend to corroborate our hypothesis.

But it was well worth the wait. Richard’s first words to me we “Bloody hell, Jon, this place is a cryptozoological treasure trove!”

Sadly, however, because of the intermittent nature of the communications, although Richard had an amazing amount to tell us, it still left us with more questions than answers; so forgive us that there are some glaring gaps in this narrative, and that some of the questions that I know you will all want to be answered, remain, for the moment, a mystery.

The team limped back to Letham Station yesterday. They are all relatively all unscathed, although the telephone kept on cutting out as we asked for details of – for example – Lisa’s condition. Back at Letham, they discovered some remarkable new information.

But the bad news first: they were unable to get hold of a helicopter at such short notice, and they are unable to reach the falls by boat, because it is the dry season and the river is too low. It is also too far too walk, and so, frustratingly, the trip to Corona Falls, where the enormous anacondas have been reported very recently will have to be postponed for a further expedition.

Richard told me: “It’s absolutely bloody gutting to know that we are so near, but so far. However, the stuff we found out today more than makes up for it.”

They are already planning a second trip to Guyana, this time in the rainy season, when the rivers will be navigable, it will not be so hot, and – from some of the anecdotal evidence they have garnered in the last 48 hours – it looks like they will have better luck in chasing some of the creatures that are their quarry.

For example: The water tiger. This is a particularly poorly known cryptid, and many researchers, including us, have suggested that a good identity for the beast would be a misidentification of the rare, and highly peculiar, South American giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis). However, it seems, from several pieces of anecdotal evidence that they have gathered in the last 48 hours, that this is quite simply not the case.

Yesterday they visited a township called Point Ranch. Kenard, one of their guides, introduced the team to a local man called Elmo. Elmo is very familiar with the water tiger and the giant otter. He says that the water tiger is a spotted animal with markings similar to those of a jaguar. They are aquatic, hunt in packs, and – somewhat peculiarly – he claims that the pack is led by an alpha animal that he refers to as ‘the master’, who orchestrates the hunting which is done by the younger members of the pack. Kenard apparently confirmed this statement, which – to the best of our knowledge – has never been published in Europe or the United States before.

Another local man told them that there is a mountain that is so remote that is doesn’t have a name. No-one has ever climbed up it and come back alive. The team are not only too debilitated to climb it, but have decided that they would need special mountaineering equipment to do so. This is something that they intend to do on the next expedition, because according to their informant, there are water tigers up there, as well as a dragon-like creature who guards a spring. How these people know this, if no-one has ever come back alive seems somewhat of a moot point, but it would churlish to raise such objections when we have not heard anything like the full story. Richard assures us that all these interviews have been captured on video, and I am very much looking forward to the treat which awaits me, as I start editing the raw footage into what will be the fourth of our major cryptozoological documentaries.

But there is more on the water tiger! Joseph one of their guides, told them how, back in the 1970s he had seen the pelt of a water tiger that had been shot. It was 10 feet long including the long tail, white – like a cow’s hide – with black spots, and a striped head like that of a tiger. They have received reports of several different colour morphs of the water tiger, and Lisa has suggested that it could perhaps be some kind of huge aquatic mustelid, as not only are these animals known to – in some species at least – exhibit a wider range of colour varieties within a natural population than do most carnivores, but several species, including the European stoat (Mustela erminea) can change their colour according to the seasons. The stoat produces a white winter morph known as an ermine. Although as far as we are aware this has not been documented in a tropical species, it would seem perfectly feasible that, in a country where there is such a dichotomy between the rainy and dry seasons, that to have two seasonal colour morphs could well be a distinct evolutionary advantage.

But there is more!

Today they were back in Letham Station and they visited the Carapus Mountains. It has to be said at this point that the Google search reveals no such place and that, once again, there was dissention in the ranks between those of us who took notes on Richard’s ‘phone call – two of us thought it was `Caracus`, two of us thought it was `Carapus`, and Google hadn’t heard of either. If anybody out there in Internet Land can help us with the spelling, we would be very grateful, although we are fairly convinced that we will have to wait until Richard and the gang return next week.

In the mountains they met a ex-chief who had retired some years ago, and now runs a fish farm. His name is Ernest, and ten years ago he saw an anaconda that he estimates as being 30 feet in length, in a pool about 30 miles from Letham. It was shot, and he claims that the skin was taken back to England. This – if it is true – would certainly have been done illegally, as it contravenes many international pieces of legislation. Somewhere there may well be a stupid bloody tourist with an inappropriate bloodlust who is sitting upon a piece of invaluable cryptozoological history. People like that make me almost livid with anger.

Ernest is now 59 years old; as we discussed the other day this is quite an age in an unforgiving country like Guyana. When he was 19 – in the late 1960s – he saw a tiny red-faced man very similar to the one we described in the posting of Monday 19th November. He described it as being 3ft tall, with a bright red face. The only difference between this account and the previous one which we published on Monday, is that Ernest believes that the red face is not war paint, but is part of its natural colouration, very similarly to one of the uakari monkeys of the genus Cacajao. The common name is believed to come from the indigenous name for ‘Dutchman’; because the indigenous peoples found that the sight of badly sunburned Western Europeans was irresistibly reminiscent of these peculiar simians. The Fortean Omniverse is a particularly peculiar one, because the same patterns tend to occur and reoccur again and again. Across the world, wherever we have been on expeditions, even when we are looking for something completely different, we hear stories of dragons. And across the world we hear, again and again, peculiar local monkeys being compared unfavourably with immigrants from the Low Countries. The proboscis monkey of Indonesia is nicknamed orang or monyet belanda – meaning Dutch monkey or Dutchman – as the native Indonesians noticed that the Dutch colonisers also had a large belly and a protruding nose. Many apologies to any of our readers from the Netherlands, whom I am sure have neither bright red faces, large bellies, or ridiculous noses, but this was too choice an example of Fortean parasynchronicity to ignore.

These tiny “men” are said to like tobacco, and Ernest told the expedition members how, when the “little man” appeared, he gave it tobacco and it disappeared.

Damon chipped in, and said that something similar happened to him about 10 years ago. He was in a tent with his sister-in-law and another girl, when he awoke to see a red-faced man looking down at him. He was momentarily paralysed with fear, but then moved to try and protect the girls. When he turned round again, the figure had gone. He didn’t hear the zip on the tent.

Ernest also told them that although he had not seen the didi (whereas we have always pronounced the word ‘dee dee’ it appears that it is actually pronounced ‘die die’) himself, he had heard of it. A friend of his, who only two years ago, saw a female didi in a tree nursing its child. He blacked out after watching it for some time, and when he had recovered it had gone. Soon after he became ill, and died within two years of seeing it.

This is a particularly interesting story because the inference is that this unnamed friend of Ernest died as a direct result of seeing this mysterious creature. We have heard of such things before. During the 2006 to The Gambia many of the people that the expedition interviewed said that to see a ninki nanka was fatal.

Kenard, their guide, told them that in the 1940s a local woman had been kidnapped by a didi, who took her away for several years, where she bore a child by him. So the story goes, when she finally managed to escape she swam across a river to a serendipitous hunter’s boat, the hunter and the woman saw the didi brandishing its fist as if in grief on the bank of the river. It then picked up the hybrid child, and tore it apart.

This is another particularly widespread piece of folklore. We have heard similar stories about the yeti, the yeren, the almasty and possibly even bigfoot. Indeed, in the years before the gorilla was identified as a shy, gentle, and almost exclusively vegetarian great ape, similar stories of its sexual escapades returned to Europe in the form of traveller’s tales.

Ernest told them of another potential cryptid – and this, to the best of our knowledge – has never been reported before in the annuls of cryptozoology. He is very familiar with Cuvier’s dwarf cayman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus) – the smallest known species of the Alligatoridae, reaching a maximum size of a mere 1.5 metres. However, on two occasions, he has seen a tiny cayman, much smaller than the dwarf cayman, brown in colour, with a red stripe down its back. It bellowed loudly, and most peculiarly, he reported it has having two tails.

The expedition’s driver said that he had seen these creatures as well, and Ernest took them to a cave system near a river where he claims that these creatures live.

The team explored these caves, and although they found nothing in there, Richard – who is, after all, a crocodilian expert, and was, at one time, Head of Reptiles at Twycross Zoo in the West Midlands of England - says that, in his opinion, these caves are eminently suitable for a small crocodilian to aestivate in during the harsh months of the dry summer. For those of you not in the known, aestivation is basically the polar opposite of hibernation; going into a semi-dormant or dormant state to escape extremes of hot weather.

We suggested that the seemingly insoluble problem of the creature being reported with two tails could perhaps be indicative of it not being a cayman at all, but being some kind of huge salamander. When the tails of salamanders and newts have been injured, they sometimes grow back double. But then again, so do those of some lizards, so for the moment this must remain an enigma. However, it is an enigma which we hope will not stay that way for long. Richard and the team are going back to see Ernest this evening for dinner and we hope that they will be able to get some more information from him.

Richard said that he had more to tell us, but at that point the telephone connection conked out for good. We tried to ‘phone him back five or six times to no avail.

So, we were not able to find out the rest of Richard’s exciting news. Nor were we able to reassure Mr. Biffo’s many fans, some of whom have even emailed us wanting to make sure that he was alright. We will try to do so tomorrow, but would ask everybody to be reassured that in a condition like this, no news is probably good news. If anything horrible had happened, Richard would, I am sure, have told us about it.

We also didn’t have a chance to ask him what the local reaction was to the burgeoning political crisis in the country, if indeed a rural area so far from the capital was even aware of it.

Here ends a fascinating, though horribly frustrating blog entry. Hopefully, tomorrow, we will have some more news for you, and will be able to fill in some of the tantalising gaps that remain in today’s narrative.

Thank you to all our readers – over a thousand a day – from all over the world, who are following the exploits of the Guyana five. Stick with us, it is going to be a bumpy ride.

And for those of you across the Atlantic from us in rural North Devon, a Happy Thanksgiving (CFZ HQ is only 50 miles from the original Plymouth Rock after all).

THERE HAS BEEN NO NEWS FOR TWO DAYS

We are beginning to get worried.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

FROM STEVE JONES.........

Well things look to have calmed down a bit so good news for the CFZ. I hope sense continue to prevail come November 22nd;

Steve Jones

Guyana, Venezuela agree to temporary "truce"


Following a verbal claim from Guyana Foreign Minister Rudolph Insanally in connection with a confusing border incident, Venezuelan Ambassador to Guyana Darío Morando said both countries agreed to wait until next November 22 to create a taskforce to assess the events related to the alleged blowout of two dredgers by the Venezuelan Army.

"We have met and are willing to find a diplomatic solution to this incident. Anyway, we have agreed to a truce until next Thursday, when Foreign Affairs Minister Nicolás Maduro is returning from an international trip," Morando explained.

He added that Maduro -who is accompanying President Hugo Chávez in a tour of the Middle East and Europe- need to be present in Venezuela to give the relevant instructions and designate the Venezuelan committee that is to deal with this issue. "The Ministers of Foreign Affairs could even meet, but I do not think this is necessary,"
Morandy added.

Guyana, however, has suggested the moves it is making if Venezuela does not provide a satisfactory answer. Georgetown plans to file an action with United Nations, Insanally said on Tuesday.

Last Thursday, two dredgers engaged in gold mining activities were blown out on the Venezuela-Guyana border. The Guyana government claims the incident came amidst a Venezuelan military operation allegedly intended to fight illegal mining operations and reportedly conducted in Guyana territory.

POLITICAL PIGGIES

Last night, our friend Steve Jones sent us this story:

Guyana, Venezuela at odds over gold boats
CARACAS, Venezuela, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- The destruction of two gold-mining barges in the South American nation of Guyana has intensified a border dispute with neighboring Venezuela.


Guyana officials allege 36 Venezuelan soldiers were behind the destruction of the two gold-mining dredges in a disputed border region Thursday. The Guyana officials allege the Venezuelan soldiers used plastic explosives to blow up the equipment, the BBC reported Saturday.

Venezuelan Ambassador Dario Morandy said Friday his country's military had not violated Guyana's borders, adding the area where the dredges had been operating was owned by his country. "Venezuela was protecting its natural resources and we need to remove all illegal miners from the area," Morandy told Stabroek News. Guyana officials have opposed that stance, claiming the incident took place in the Cuyuni River, a region their country controls.
A formal protest of the incident has been filed by the Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a group of military and police officials are expected to conduct an investigation to determine any wrongdoing.


Copyright 2007 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

Steve wrote:

"I noticed reading the latest news about Guyana on Google News Jon that things are kicking off with Venezuela and themselves over gold mining with an alleged border incursion by Venezuelan troops to blow up some dredges.I hope the CFZ are far enough away to avoid any unpleasantness kicking off.it also looks like their Chief justice and government are having problems.how much longer are the CFZ staying in the country?"

We have looked into the situation, and it appears that our team is safe. These alleged incursions are in a different part of the country, and also seem to be a semi-regular occurrence. There has been a boundary dispute with Venezuela for decades, but despite periodic upheavals like this latest one, the threat of all out war seems as distant as the possibility that the situation will reach an amicable conclusion.

But thanks Steve for letting us know...

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

DAY SIX: “The most savage land I’ve ever been in”

We heard from the increasingly beleaguered expedition, or, as Nick Redfern has dubbed them ‘the Guyana five’ just before 10 this evening GMT. Richard gave such a graphic description of the problems with which they have had to deal, that when he culminated his account with the quote that we have taken for the headline of this bulletin, we couldn’t bring ourselves to reprimand him for having split an infinitive. After all – although I can feel my late father rolling in his grave as Corinna types this, there are worse things than massacring the Queen’s English.

They reached the swamps late yesterday, and they have spent most of today exploring them.

In Richard’s words they have been ‘going through hell’. “No shade, no trees – it’s a nightmare … the Gobi desert was a breeze compared to this”, said Richard, and he described how the intense heat was causing a series of spontaneous bush fires. One of the biggest for the expedition is that, whereas on other expeditions they have started work at 7.00 in the morning and carried on to dusk, because of extreme conditions they just cannot do this. Richard described how he spent a large part of the hottest part of the day standing knee deep in a muddy swamp, in the inadequate shade of a crumbling tree, in a vain attempt to keep cool.

Perhaps ‘armchair cryptozoologists’, who like nothing more than to sit back and criticise expeditions such as this, would like to try really roughing it for once in their pampered lives. We have received a lot of mail over the past few days, most of it favourable and supportive, but there have been people whingeing about how the team are merely on an expensive foreign ‘jolly’. Well, it was certainly expensive, they are certainly in foreign parts, but the descriptions of injuries, heat stroke, and other privations paint a far from jolly picture.

There have also been postings on one of the British Fortean message boards, suggesting that this expedition is fundamentally floored because it was paid for by a computer games manufacturer. This is, as Oll Lewis pointed out in a robust rebuttal, complete nonsense. These days nearly all scientific endeavours are sponsored by somebody; usually biochemical manufacturing companies, medical research facilities, but often more dubious portions of the military industrial complex. From where I am sitting, being sponsored by someone who is – as Berry Gordy once said – “part of the industry of human happiness”, is morally, at least, infinitely preferable. People whom I regard as being morally dubious have offered us sponsorship in the past; people who wanted to use our research to bolster up their own peculiar political/religious agenda. We refused to have anything to do with them, and will continue to refuse to do so. We are proud to be carrying out this difficult, and without blowing our own trumpets too much, intrepid investigation in conjunction with Capcom, and hope that our relationship with this company, who do nothing worse than provide entertainment for millions of customers, will continue in the future.

Both Richard and Paul (Mr. Biffo) have suffered from heat stroke today, and on top of having broken her thumb two days ago, Lisa has now compounded her injuries by losing a toe nail, which has – in Richard’s delightful West Midlands patois – “made her foot go all manky”.

They spent the day battling with extreme heat in a vain search for anacondas. Although they didn’t see any living snakes, they did find the tracks of a specimen that they estimated to be about 15 foot in length. This is one hell of a snake. For the record, the largest anaconda to be generally accepted by mainstream scientists was about 28 feet long, and the ones that the expedition is searching for evidence of, maybe between 40 and 50 feet in length, so the 15 footer that left tracks at Crane Pond, for our intrepid expedition to find is now’t but a wee bairn. After fruitless investigation of Crane Pond, earlier today they trekked across the savannah to another pond called Cashew Pond. On their way they saw and filmed a giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tirdactyla) – a gloriously bizarre edentate which can grow to a size of 8 feet (2.4 metres).

This expedition is particularly exciting for me because my great hero Gerald Durrell visited Guyana when it was still known as British Guiana in 1950, and recounted his adventures in a wonderful book called Three Singles to Adventure. I suppose, here, I should reassure any of the readers of this blog who are agog with anticipation of some degree of sexual impropriety, that the term ‘singles’ refers to one-way rail tickets rather than any indication of their marital status. Coincidentally, on another trip three years later, Durrell too encountered a giant anteater, and brought her – hand tame – back to Britain where she captivated the hearts of both the book buying public and visitors to Paignton Zoo for many years. As I am feeling generous, to celebrate the end of the first half of the expedition, I will give a prize of a year’s free membership of the CFZ to the first person who emails me on jon@cfz.org.uk telling me the anteater’s name.

But I digress.

The team are staying at Cashew Pond tonight. As you read this, Richard will be going through agonies of guilt, because – as the expedition is living off the land – their hunter earlier shot a young cayman and they are planning to have it for their tea. As Richard is a great lover of the crocodile family, this will be extremely difficult for him. As I have eaten both alligator and crocodile in my time, I can reassure you – and by proxy them – that it tastes like a slightly fish version of McDonald’s chicken nuggets, and will certainly not launch any of the team on to a full-time career as reptile gourmands.

Tomorrow they head back towards Letham Station, where, hopefully, they will be successful in chartering a helicopter to take them to Corona Falls, which is some 70 miles away, and is reputably the mother load as far as giant anacondas are concerned.
As Graham so rightly pointed out, this expedition really is experiencing “science in the raw”, and I am sure, like us, your thoughts and prayers are with them.

Monday, 19 November 2007

DAY FIVE: Bone flutes and broken thumbs

After nearly 48 hours of silence, Richard telephoned us at about 5.45 GMT, and – in order to conserve their dwindling resources of credit – we telephoned them back. They are having a particularly rough time with the heat; and Richard has once again suffered from heatstroke today. Lisa fell off a mountain and broke her thumb yesterday, and the other expedition members are also finding the terrain particularly gruelling.

“The heat is dreadful, I’ve never known heat like this”, says Richard, who went on to say that they had seriously under-estimated the heat, the dryness, and the lack of shade. “It’s relentlessly dry and hot with hardly any shade”, he said, and his voice sounded fatigued and drawn.

However, they have had a very interesting couple of days. Yesterday they visited a cave system in some remote mountains. The connection of the telephone was particularly bad today and so, although he repeated it three times, we were unable to ascertain the name of the location, but, so it transpires, these cave systems were only discovered for the first time a few years ago. They contain a very ancient – and probably pre-Columbian – burial ground and they found graves of adults and children, including one where the child and adult had been buried in such a way that the adult appears to have been some kind of tribal shaman.

For those of you not aware of the term, the pre-Columbian era encompasses all periods of history and pre-history of the New World prior to the arrival of Columbus in 1492.

We are not in a position to give any more information about these burial grounds at this time. However, Richard tells us that the CFZ expedition were the first Europeans ever to visit these caves, and they have taken a lot of photographs and video film, which we will be broadcasting on CFZ upon their return. Expedition archaeologist Lisa Dowley – despite her broken thumb – took some samples, which will be examined by a British University upon their return to the UK. Once again, the quality of transmission was so poor that we cannot give any more details about what these samples are.

History does not relate whether Lisa had her accident before or after visiting these caves, and it has to be said – with tongue somewhat in cheek – that the Tintin adventure Seven Crysal Balls/Prisoners of the Sun, written by Georges Remi (aka Hergé) in the 1940s, comes to mind. For those of you not aware of this classic graphic novel, I suggest that you check out this link to Wikipedia.

The main reason they visited these cave systems was that it has historically been known as a haunt of the didi. It was last seen ten years ago by a man who was so frightened that he ran away down the mountain. He described it as being a huge, hairy man. In the previous blog post we reported how another didi witness had described the creature he had seen as being like a European but covered in hair. When this was posted on one of the other internet blogs dealing with cryptozoology, someone made a comment that it could not possibly have been a European.

Well duh!

I think the important thing here is that, on the whole at least, people from Western Europe are far taller than people from South America. The description of the did as being ‘like a European’ is – in my opinion at least – merely a cute way of saying that the figure was tall and burly.

They also received some other strange stories of apparently hominoid creatures. They have received reports of a very small human-shaped animal; only two and a half feet tall, and with a bright red face, that was seen near these caves. The local people who told them of this believe that the red colouration had been painted on. They also heard of similar creatures seen nearby at a place called Trebang’s Rock. Trebang are allegedly humanoid creatures, short in stature, which are – according to Richard – “supposed to touch children and transmit deadly diseases to them”. He went on to say that when the children die, the Trebang is supposed to take their bones and make them into flutes.

South America has a long and fascinating history of small, often malevolent, dwarves. I would refer you to a book called The Humanoids by Charles Bowen (Spearman 1969) which, despite an appalling cover – which would lead many researchers to think that this is a tedious piece of sensationalist drivel – contains a wealth of fascinating, and unique information. I have been studying the mysterious dwarves of Central and South America for a long time, and although I believe that the paranormal attributes, which have often been given them by local folk, should be taken cum grano salis, I think that there may well be some serious cryptozoological evidence buried beneath a miasma of superstitious nonsense. Whether these ‘little people’ are human or animal, remains to be seen, although accounts like the one that the expedition team received today, suggest that they may well be very primitive human beings.

The team have travelled six miles today, so far under excruciatingly bad conditions. They are on their way towards some swamps where they will film anacondas and caymans. This is one of the few remaining strongholds for the increasingly endangered black cayman (Melanosuchus niger) and it will be a privilege for them to see this wonderful species in the wild. However, whilst in these swamps they will also be photographing and filming green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) in order to study the population pressure and feeding strategies of this species in this part of Guyana. The giant specimens have been reported at a place called Corona Falls, which is some seventy miles away from their present location. After a few days in these swamps, the team will be returning to Letham Station, and they hope to negotiate the hire of a helicopter to take them to the Falls. They hope that this will be within what remains of the expedition budget, although the paperwork is likely to be complicated because the company who owns the helicopter is based in Brazil.

All in all, an exciting, and eminently satisfactory two days for the team that Nick Redfern has dubbed ‘the Guyana Five’. More news when we get it.

PRESS REPORT: North Devon Journal, Nov 8th


LISTEN WHILE WE WAIT...

We are still waiting for news from the expedition, but in the meantime, here are a couple of links which may be of interest.

Richard is interviewed on a podcast from Geoff Ward from the Western Daily Press. I will be on there in a couple of days as well. Richard gives an in depth overview of the expedition and what we hope to achieve.

Also: Shameless plug time.

If you want something to listen to whilst reading about the expedition why not download a copy of my new albun. Its quite good. Honest!

Still no news ... but for those of you who've not seen it, have a look at this..

Sunday, 18 November 2007

No News - but is this GOOD news?

We have spent the whole day by the telephone waiting for news. But to no avail. We have regularly tried to telephone the guys out in Guyana, but each time we have not been able to get connected.

We will be manning the phones throughout the night, and will post a news bulletin as soon as we have any news to post. In the meantime, keep checking this page, and we will update you all as soon as we are able....

Jon
Oll
Corinna
Graham

Saturday, 17 November 2007

DAY THREE - heatstroke and mermaids

Back at the CFZ headquarters in rural North Devon we are in a peculiar state of limbo. Our whole day’s activities revolve about waiting for one garbled two or three minute ‘phone call. After a long and fairly dull day, Richard ‘phoned just before 10.00 this evening GMT.

It has been another long and eventful day for the five-person expedition. First of all we want to reassure you that everybody is alive and well, although they are finding the heat very difficult. After all, they are not that far from the Equator. It is a mark of quite how hot it is out there that Richard – who is usually pretty good in tropical climes – collapsed with heat stroke this afternoon. When he ‘phoned, he sounded dreadful, and we would like to stress that the satellite ‘phone link-up is of spectacularly poor quality, so although we guarantee that the gist of what is in this and future reports is correct, we are not certain that names of people or places are necessarily accurate.

Yesterday, we told how the team visited the home village of their guide and mentor Damon Corrie. We told how the ‘phone cut out for a few seconds so we could not tell you the name of this village, but we asked Richard today and as far as we are able to ascertain, Damon’s home village is called Pakuri (or something like that anyway).

Because communications are so difficult, we tried to have two or three people on the line listening every time a call comes through. This has been particularly irksome at times this evening when three of us answered the telephone at once, agog with anticipation, only to find that it was my beloved younger step-daughter wanting help with renewing her mobile ‘phone contract. This is just one of the mildly amusing aspects of running the world’s largest mystery animal research group from a family home.

Jon and Graham listened intently as the weak and garbled voice struggled through the ether. Hisses and pops punctuated the gems of information, which were, however, well worth the wait.

The team has spent today trekking deep into the grassland savannah. There is very little cover, and Jon Hare told us that the only thing that made the intense heat bearable were the occasional breezes. Jon told us that earlier on today they had found a small creek, and the whole team had waded in to cool down. He was particularly struck by the shoals of small fishes, which appeared – as if from nowhere – and immediately set to nibbling at the skin of our intrepid explorers. By the creek they met an old hunter. “Old” is a relative term. He was 53; no great age here in Britain – after all Corinna, Graham and I are rapidly approaching that venerable status, and Chris Clark on the expedition is quite a few years older than that. However, in a poorly developed third world country, 53 is quite a venerable age. Jon got talking to the hunter, who had tribal tattoos on his back, and told him how when he was young, at this very creek, and armed with only a machete, he had killed a jaguar.

They reached a village, which we think was called either Tolshiba (Graham’s interpretation) or Calshida (Jon Downes’). Unfortunately, at this point, the line broke up. Richard told us how an eye-witness reported seeing the didi a couple of years ago. He described it as looking like an enormous white man covered in hair. At this point we cannot confirm whether this witness was at the village of ?Tolshiba/?Calshida, or whether this was an incident which took place earlier.

What we can confirm is that yesterday, at Letham Station, they met a number of eyewitnesses to giant anacondas. However, the largest of these was reportedly only 25 foot long. This is one hell of a snake, but it is just about within the accepted size range for this species. However, other eyewitnesses told them of tracks found in the jungle near water, which appear to be from much larger snakes. They intend to return to Letham Station at some point during the next fortnight and to visit the places where these snakes have been seen, with the eyewitnesses.

Jon Hare told us something very peculiar. Apparently, in the middle of the savannah, miles from any water there is a large flat rock known as ‘Mermaid Rock’. Allegedly, within recent living memory, human figures with fishy tails have been seen sitting atop this rock performing the ultimate mermaid cliché of combing their hair. What mermaids would be doing so far from any water, beggars belief, but it is interesting that such a piece of archetypal European folklore has been transplanted to a rock deep in the heart of nowhere.

Tomorrow they will continue travelling across the savannah. They intend to avoid the worst of the mid-day sun by travelling very early in the morning and in the later afternoon. Either tomorrow or the next day, they will reach a rocky area containing some ancient caves. These caves were allegedly inhabited by people eons ago. Jon Hare told us how they have been told stories of ancient human remains having been discovered deep in these caves. These bodies had been ritualistically interred in a similar way to some of the archaeological sites Jon has studied in Indonesia.

This is particularly interesting to cryptozoologists because, as Damon Corrie told us on the telephone last week, these caves have been reportedly the haunt of didi in recent years.

We await, with anticipation, the next report from the team.

Friday, 16 November 2007

FIRST CONTACT - abducted by a didi

Less than a couple of hours after Nick Redfern wondered on his blog whether we would ever see our brave boys (and girl) again, we finally heard from Richard. OK the reception was terrible, there was five to ten second lag in broadcasting, and our conversation lasted for considerably less than two minutes, but we can no confirm that all five of the expedition members are safe and well, and that they are presently in the township of Letham Station on the edge of the savannah.

Despite the almost insurmountable technical difficulties, it still amazes me that I was able to have a telephone conversation with my good friend and colleague miles from nowhere, half the world away. For unlike the younger members of the CFZ team, I am a child of the late 50s, and I still remember how complicated it was to make my first ever international ‘phone call. It was 1966, and my grandmother’s 70th birthday. My father, who was then a senior civil servant in Hong Kong managed – somehow – to arrange an international ‘phone call through somebody at the American Consulate so we could wish my grandmother a happy birthday. It took days to arrange, and I found out years later that my father had had to pull a lot of strings in high places to arrange it, and even now I remember the booming voice of my grandmother sounding like she had her head in a bucket along a crackly telephone line. Before we made the ‘phone call my mother got out my father’s globe, which still stands on top of my recording studio monitors in the CFZ office. She showed me the little dot that was Hong Kong, and the even smaller dot which was Chester in the north of England. I marvelled at this amazing technology, which could allow us to speak to my grandmother for a few minutes.

Some of this childish wonder came back to me this evening as I heard Richard’s crackly voice broadcasting across the ether from thousands of miles away.

After ascertaining that everybody was well, Richard told us quickly of their first day’s adventures. After an eighteen hour flight, they landed in Georgetown – the capital of Guyana – yesterday morning, and after a short break travelled for thirteen hours into the interior of the country. It’s only when I checked Google Earth that I realised quite how far into the interior Letham Station actually is. The poor dears must be exhausted.




This morning they visited the home village of their guide and mentor Damon Corrie. The ‘phone cut out for a few seconds as he was explaining this, so for the moment I cannot tell you the name of this village, but while they were there they received the first solid first person account of the didi.

Apparently, about two years ago, two children – a boy, and a girl aged twelve – were walking on the savannah near the village. Out of the undergrowth strode a big, hairy, man-like figure, who grabbed the little girl, disappeared with her, and neither the hairy didi nor the girl were ever seen again.

The annals of cryptozoology are full of such accounts, but it is a very disturbing feeling to hear such a story in the 21st Century. Cryptozoologists from Heuvelmans onwards have described the world’s unknown hominids as shy and gentle creatures, and have done their best to downplay the stories of rapes, killings, and abductions. To hear such a story for oneself is a chilling experience.

They have also obtained the first video footage of an hitherto unknown species of scorpion, known to the locals as the green scorpion (presumably because of its colour). Richard was in the middle of telling me about this when the satellite link broke off. We were unable to contact him again.

All in all, however, this is a fantastic first day for the expedition. We will not be able to receive any video footage or images until they return, but due to the magic of cyberspace, we have obtained a couple of images of the countryside around the township of Letham Station.

HERE

HERE

HERE


Tomorrow the expedition sets out on foot into the largely unexplored savannah grassland.

Our thoughts and our prayers are with them.

OVER TO NICK REDFERN WHO IS RAPIDLY BECOMING THE STAR OF THIS PARTICULAR SHOW

The Guyana Five: Still M.I.A.
Well...the mystery of the missing adventurers (a.k.a. the "Guyana Five") continues at a steady and mystifying pace.A frantic, just-received phone call from CFZ director Jon Downes worriedly informed me that there is still no word from our intrepid explorers.Jon asked me if I would try and contact their satellite phone myself, given the fact that - here in Dallas - I'm much closer to Guyana than he is in ye olde England.

I was happy to oblige, of course; but had to ominously advise an ever more panicky and sweaty-palmed Jon that the only voice I heard was a recorded one: namely that of a posh English bird uttering the robotic words: "There is a fault, please try later. There is a fault, please try later. There is..."

Well, you get the picture.Should we now seriously consider the possibility that Richard and Co. really are nothing but a series of fragmentary and nostalgic memories to us, and the remains of a tasty morsel to the monstrous beasts of deepest Guyana?Probably not!

In reality, I'm quite sure that the expedition is continuing at a fine pace, and the gang is merrily roaming around, blissfully unaware of the fact that their fate - and their potential digestion by giant snakes - is being debated in slightly-more-than-half-serious words on this very blog.

Will we ever see the Guyana Five again?

Will they make it out of the lair of the beasts in one piece? Will Jon ever get to utter those immortal words again: "Richard, make me a nice cup of Earl Grey Tea, dear boy"?

Or will Jon be forever doomed to cry out late at night when the wind howls and the driving rain beats down on the windows of the ancient cottage in which he and his beloved Corinna live: "Richard, Richard! Wherefore art thou, Richard?" There's only one way to find out: stay tuned for the next exciting and enthralling (well, okay, mildly intriguing) episode of what I like to call "Welcome to the Jungle."

There are times Mr Redfern that I am very fond of you..

From Nick's blog...

"Well, the guys have arrived in Guyana and are deep within the depths of the jungles as I write these words.We heard from them earlier today - Richard (Freeman) called on his satellite phone to announce they were making their intrepid way towards one rumored beast-infested location...at which point the line went dead.Unfortunately - and somewhat mysteriously - they have not been heard of since.We sincerely hope they have not become lunch for some giant, marauding snake or hairy man-beast, and we anxiously await their next communication.Hopefully, this is all due to the effects of man-made satellite technology and nothing more sinister.When we hear more, so shall you..."

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Scott Walker said it best ...

"the good news you cannot refuse,
the bad news, is there is no news ..."
Scott Walker Tilt 1995

This is the fifth time in as many years that I have spent at home in Britain while Richard Freeman and Chris Clark lead a major foreign cryptozoological expedition. I do not mind doing it, because I am only too aware that each expedition involves physical rigours with which my poor battered middle-aged body is no longer able to deal. As many of the readers of this blog know, I am seriously disabled, and although I have been on foreign expeditions in the past, and no doubt shall do so again, sixteen-hour treks into the jungle are sadly a thing of the past for me. However, in my opinion, my job; staying at home and collating the information that we receive is just as important as being on the front line. No army marches without its logistical support from GCHQ, and the CFZ expeditionary force is no exception.

The way I see it, is that the CFZ in funded by public subscription, and therefore, you - the public – deserve to be kept up to date with the progress of each of our expeditions. We have every intention of posting the news as and when it happens. However, sadly, the world’s an imperfect place, and sometimes technology does not work as well as we would have hoped.

I am particularly unwell at the moment, and have been in bed most of the day. Indeed, it is only through the kind offices of my wife Corinna, who is sitting typing this as I dictate it, that the news bulletin you are reading now is being typed.

We know that the Caribbean Airlines flight arrived in Georgetown at lunchtime GMT, and we have been anxiously waiting for some word from the expedition team ever since 1.00 pm.

At about 6.30 tonight, we had a brief ‘phone call from Richard. Oll Lewis was manning the office ‘phone:

Richard ‘phoned and said: ‘Hello is that Jon?’ To which I replied ‘No, it is Oll. I shall patch you up to Jon now’, and the line went dead.”

Oll has been trying to contact them ever since.

He says: “I have got through to the ‘phone twice, but both times British Telecom’s automated bionic disembodied voice has cheerfully announced ‘we are sorry, but there is a fault on the line’. The second time I got through it briefly announced that I was through to the ‘phones voicemail, before the annoying voice of BT informed me of a fault again. I shall be trying to contact them again every 15 minutes.

My old boss in the music industry, a very well-known pop star, once told me that one of my greatest talents was being able to concoct press releases out of nothing. Richard laughed when I told him this, and pointed out that I managed to get an eminently readable 120,000-word book after 4 days spent at the side of a lake in Lancashire. This bulletin, however, really takes the biscuit. We have had four words from Richard, from which we can assume that they are:

a) safely in Guyana, and
b) that none of them, as yet, has been eaten by giant ground sloths. (I am waiting, with
glee, for the first time that someone points out that ground sloths are exclusively
vegetarians).

I promised you the news as and when we have it, and so far this is it. There will be more bulletins as and when more news is available.

Watch this space,

Monday, 12 November 2007

PRESS RELEASE: FIVE EXPLORERS IN GIANT SNAKE ADVENTURE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 12TH DECEMBER 2008

FIVE EXPLORERS IN GIANT SNAKE ADVENTURE

On Wednesday evening, 14th November, a five-person expedition flies from Heathrow Airport in search of adventure. The five explorers from the UK based Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] – the world’s largest organisation dedicated to the search for unknown animals – are on the track of three potentially deadly monsters.

1. The giant anaconda. Although the largest known specimen of this snake was a mere 28 foot, there have been reports for centuries of far larger reptiles in the swamps of South America. Snakes measuring 40 – 50 feet have been reported from the trackless swamps of Guyana in the past few years. Are these creatures giant specimens of a known species? Or something entirely new? We aim to find out.

2. The didi. Often described as a bigfoot-type creature, some reports confuse it with the mapinguari; another huge South American mystery beast that some people believe is a surviving giant ground sloth. Giant ground sloth bear, hominid, or bogeyman? We aim to find out.

3. The water tiger. This poorly known aquatic beast is practically unknown in the west, but across South America it is famed for its ferocity. Is it something entirely new? Or is it something based upon sightings of the extremely rare giant river otter? We aim to find out.

The expedition will be keeping in touch with CFZ headquarters in rural North Devon by satellite ‘phone, and CFZ Director Jonathan Downes (48) hopes to be able to post daily bulletins on a dedicated blog: http://cfzguyana.blogspot.com/

The expedition members are:
Richard Freeman, Zoological Director of the CFZ - expedition leader
Dr. Chris Clark, cryptozoologist
Lisa Dowley, photographer
Jon Hare, science writer and explorer
Paul Rose, journalist and author

Photographs of expedition members, a press pack, and other information are available. Please telephone Jon or Corinna on 01237 431413 for further details.

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

+ The Centre for Fortean Zoology is a non profit-making organisation, which was founded in 1992. Over the last 11 years we have mounted expeditions to Central America, Thailand, Mexico, Mongolia, Sumatra, West Africa, various parts of the United States, as well as numerous investigations in the UK.
+ Further information on the CFZ can be found on their website www.cfz.org.uk
+ CFZ Press are now the world’s most prolific publishers of books on mystery animals.
+ The honorary life President of the Centre for Fortean Zoology is renowned explorer, author and soldier Colonel John Blashford-Snell OBE, best known for his pioneering Operation Drake and Operation Raleigh expeditions during the 1970s.
+ The CFZ is looking for corporate and private sponsors.
+ The CFZ make their own documentary films which can be seen at http://www.cfztv.org
+ `Lair of the Red Worm`, the 60 minute film of their 2005 expedition to Mongolia has now been seen by 27,000 people

48 Hours left...

Well guys we are nearly there. On Wednesday evening the intrepid team of four men and one woman of the CFZ embark for Guyana. Paul Rose (God bless him) has obtained a satellite ‘phone, and – technology permitting – we hope that we will be able to post daily updates on this blog. You will have to wait until they return on the 28th November before we can post any pictures or video, but we are confident that our daily bulletins from the expedition will be an exciting opportunity for you all to follow the adventure as it unfolds.


Watch this space.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Richard Freeman interviews...

Check out Nick Redfern's interview with Richard in which they discuss the firthcoming expedition.

Richard also mkes a guest appearance (OK about a third of the bloody film) in the second edition of our new monthly webTV show in which he exmplains the expedition in more depth (with pictures).

A few weeks ago Nick also interviews Paul Rose aka Mr Biffo on his role in the Guyana expedition..

Check them out..................

Monday, 29 October 2007

PUTTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

It has come to our attention that there is some confusion about one of the creatures with which the 2007 CFZ Guyana Expedition is concerned. One of the basic tenets of cryptozoology is that the testimony of eyewitnesses and natives of areas where cryptids have been reported is at least as important as the theories of theoretical zoologists from more developed countries.

We are perfectly aware that current cryptozoological thought has the didi and the mapinguary as two different creatures. As Loren Coleman posted on his blog today (29th October):

"….the Didi of Guyana is described (pp. 72-73) in more conventional terms, as a five feet tall bipedal proto-pygmy of the rainforests, covered in short black hair that makes “hooing” sounds. Meanwhile, the more massive, taller Mapinguary of Brazil’s Amazon jungles is said to be a red-haired, sloping, bipedal, smelly, long-armed, apelike creature that vocalizes in roars and booms (pp. 74-75).

The Mapinguary has generally been associated with the reports of pulling tongues from cattle in Brazil, not Guyana. It is the Mapinguary of Brazil, not the Didi of Guyana, that Dr. David Oren theorizes is a medium-sized extinct giant ground sloth, although most cryptozoologists still consider the majority of Mapinguary sightings are of an unknown primate. There is hope that before the local people are interviewed, the CFZ sorts out the confusion between these cryptid hominoids in their own mind. I would also be interested in learning the source of their description of “scythe-like claws” for the Didi or the Mapinguary."

We do not rush into our expeditions `blind`. This expedition has been in the planning stages for nearly eighteen months and we have been in contact with a number of people in Guyana.

Our native guide originally mentioned the didi or dia-dai as he spelt it, over a year ago. Originally the expedition was just going to focus on the giant anaconda but we thought that we might as well try to gather as much information on as many cryptids as we could. Our guide described the didi as ‘bigfoot-like’ but also mentioned that it had huge claws.

Apes do not have claws.

As we said in the press release this creature is nebulous; some reports suggesting a primate others some kind of clawed animal. He also said it was supposed to kidnap children. This sounds folkloric to me. The didi might be a ground sloth, an upright walking ape, a spectacled bear, or just a bogyman, that’s what we want to find out.

We are taking reconstructions of both ground sloths and hominids to show any witnesses as well as photos of the spectacled bear.

In the past, something we have come across is that localized names for creatures can encompass several different animals. `Didi` might be as loose a term as `bunyip`. Hopefully this expedition will help to cast some light on this but we need to listen to what local people are saying rather than just hypothesizing from a distance, and the native people in Guyana are saying that the didi has claws.

We have also been told of the `tongue-ripping` folklore. Whether this is a case of someone having heard of the events further south on the continent and transposing them to Guyana, or whether this is something which has actually happened in the `target area` of our expedition remains to be seen.

This is a major expedition, and we hope that when we return we will have ground- breaking new evidence to present.

SOUTH AMERICAN MONSTER HUNT

SOUTH AMERICAN MONSTER HUNT


For Immediate Release: 2007-10-24


On the 14th November 2007, five members of the Centre for Fortean Zoology – the world’s largest organisation dedicated to the search for mystery animals – leave the UK for South America, on their most ambitious expedition yet. They will be searching the remote swamps and jungles of Guyana. They are looking for three elusive, potentially lethal, and hitherto undiscovered animals.

· The giant anaconda
· The didi
· The water tiger

As far as we are aware, this is the first cryptozoological expedition in search of evidence for the existence of these three animals that has ever been mounted. After months of complex negotiations, we can also announce that the expedition is sponsored by Capcom – one of the world’s leading video game publishers, who are concurrently launching Monster Hunter Freedom 2, their exciting new game for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable (PSP).

The expedition will take the five members, and their guides, deep into unexplored swamps in the west of Guyana. The area is so remote and poorly known that it doesn’t even have a name.

· The anaconda (Eunectes murinus) is the largest known snake in South America. The largest specimen shot was 28ft (9m) long. However, in the past, reports have come in from Guyana of anacondas of mind-boggling proportions, 40-60ft (12-18m) long. In some areas these giants are referred to as manatorro (the bull killer). As recently as last year, a specimen estimated at being 40ft (12m) long was observed by a party of native hunters. The giant snake frightened them so much that they fled. The target area for these monster serpents is a series of remote lakes in the grasslands.

· The didi is a more nebulous beast. It is said to walk upright like a man and be armed with scythe-like claws. It is alleged to tear out the tongues of living cattle, and leave swathes of terror in its wake. Although this last attribute may well be apocryphal, the claws in particular recall the supposedly extinct giant ground sloths or mylodonts. These bear-sized herbivores supposedly died out ten thousand years ago, but reports from across the Amazon, and surrounding areas, suggest they may well still survive.




2

· The water tiger is an aggressive aquatic animal said to have pointed teeth and webbed, humanlike hands. In the past, it was reported to have attacked both people and livestock. The water tiger may be based on reports of the rare giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) which can grow to a length of 6ft (1.8m).

The group intend to interview native witnesses to gather information on the animals and search the grasslands and lakes for evidence. They are being guided by Damon Corrie - a chief of the Eagle Clan Arawak tribe – who is also one of the few people to have visited the area in question.

The group consists of:

· Dr Chris Clark, engineer
· Lisa Dowley, photographer
· Richard Freeman, cryptozoologist
· Jon Hare, science writer
· Paul Rose, journalist

Photographs, a press pack, and further information are available, and expedition members are available for interview. Please contact Jon or Corinna at the CFZ Press Office on +44 (0)1237 431413.


NOTES FOR EDITORS:

+ The Centre for Fortean Zoology is a non profit-making organisation, which was founded in 1992. Over the last 11 years we have mounted expeditions to Central America, Thailand, Mexico, Mongolia, Sumatra, West Africa, various parts of the United States, as well as numerous investigations in the UK.
+ Further information on the CFZ can be found on their website, www.cfz.org.uk
+ CFZ Press are now the world’s most prolific publishers of books on mystery animals.
+ The honorary life President of the Centre for Fortean Zoology is renowned explorer, author and soldier Colonel John Blashford-Snell OBE, best known for his pioneering Operation Drake and Operation Raleigh expeditions during the 1970s.
+ The CFZ is looking for corporate and private sponsors.
+ The CFZ make their own documentary films which can be seen at http://www.cfztv.org
+ `Lair of the Red Worm`, the 60 minute film of their 2005 expedition to Mongolia has now been seen by 27,000 people.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

God bless you Biffo

Paul Rose has posted another story on the forthcoming trip on his blog:

HERE

Enjoy!

BTW A detailed update from the CFZ will be coming out in the next few days, as soon as we have finalised the arrangements...

Saturday, 15 September 2007

We are safe

We are back, safe and relatively sound. Apart from some superficial cuts and bruises we are OK, but if we hadn't been driving a Jaguar we would both be dead! It was the worst crash I have ever been in, and I think that the emotional effects for both of us will be with us for some time.

The car is a complete mangled wreck, but you can buy a new car. You can't get a new wife, and thank God Corinna was OK...

Friday, 14 September 2007

Bad News

The CFZ Press Office released the following statement this afternoon:

CFZ Director Jonathan Downes and his wife Corinna were involved in a serious road traffic accident on the M25 last night, involving four other vehicles. Their Jaguar was a write-off and they were taken to hospital. However, they were discharged in the early hours of this morning.

The police have stated that although a prosecution is likely to take place, it would not be against Mr Downes, who was completely blameless.

Apart from shock, and superficial scratches and bruises, it appears that Mr and Mrs Downes are unheart.

More news when we get it.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Well, they got part of it right....

Monster Hunter Expedition

Posted on 11 Sep 2007 by SquallSnake7By: Zachary Gasiorowski
To help promote Monster Hunter Freedom 2 for PSP, Capcom has hired the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) to lead an expedition in South America to find mythical beasts such as a 40 foot anaconda, Big Foot, and saliva spitting death worms.

The expedition, set to begin sometime in November, will either be really fun and exciting or incredibility painful and bug infested. If you go, be sure to take your bug spray and a multi-tool.
Stay with http://www.mygamer.com/


Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Do people actually READ the press releases?

So we're are all insane...............allegedly

Click Here to investigate the Mental Health of the CFZ and CAPCOM

CLAP HANDS
(Tom Waits and Kathlees Brennan)

Sane, sane, they're all insane
The fireman's blind, the conductor's lame
A Cincinatti jacket and a sack luck dame
Hanging out the window with a bottle full of rain
Clap hands, Clap hands
Clap hands, Clap hands

Said roar, roar the thunder and the roar
Son of a bitch is never comin' back here no more
Moon in the window; a bird on the pole
Can always find a millionaire to shovel all the coal
Clap hands, Clap hands
Clap hands, Clap hands
Steam, steam a hundred bad dreams
Goin' up to Harlem with a pistol in his jeans
A fifty dollar bill inside a Palladin's hat
And nobody's sure where Mr. Knickerbocker's at

Shine, shine a Roosevelt dime
All the way to Baltimore and runnin' out of time
Salvation Army seemed to wind up in the hole
They all went to Heaven in the little row boat
Clap hands, Clap hands
Clap hands, Clap hands

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

There's more at the door...

And another, which can be found HERE



Capcom Sponsors Real-Life Monster Hunt
Bid to track down 40ft anaconda and hairy "ape-like being" with claws.
by Rob Burman, IGN UK

UK, September 10, 2007 - Capcom is sponsoring an expedition to Guyana to hunt for the South American version of Bigfoot - called the di-di - and the equally elusive 40ft anaconda as part of its campaign to promote Monster Hunter Freedom 2 on PSP in the UK.

Leading the search, which begins in November, will be the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) which specialises in searching out mythical beasts, including the saliva spitting 'death worm' and the ninki nanka.

While the giant snake on the CFZ's radar is fairly self-explanatory, you might be less familiar with the di-di. It's a hairy, ape-like creature believed to have killed cattle by ripping out their tongue with its sharp claws. According to the CFZ, the didi could be a species of ground sloth thought to be extinct - or, failing that, completely imaginary, we suppose.


IGN - Brisbane,CA,USA

Groovy gaming gonzo gubbins

HERE

The first of the dedicated gaming publications get on board...

As part of their UK promotion for the release of Monster Hunter Freedom 2 on PSP, capcom are sponsoring a real life monster hunt in Guyana, for the "di-di" and the 40ft Anaconda.

The search will begin in November, with the Centre of Fortean Zoology (CFZ) experts in tracking down strange beasts such as the saliva spitting 'Death Worm' and the 'Ninki Nanka'. Did I say 'tracking down'? That would imply they've actually found such gruesome wonders. However, the CFZ seem to know their subject matter very well, and so describe the Di-Di as a hairy ape-like creature with sharp claws, capable of killing cattle. According to them, the Di-Di is potentially a ground Sloth species thought to be extinct.

Yeah well. We won't be holding our breaths.


PSPworld - USA

Monday, 10 September 2007

And we are in `The Register`....

Here

Thanks to Dino for emailing me the link..

Good old Redders

Nick Redfern over as CFZUSA has given us a plug already. In the next few weeks he will be interviewing all six expedition members and posting the interviews on his site...

The six members are:

RICHARD FREEMAN
DR. CHRIS CLARK
JOHN HARE
LISA DOWLEY
PAUL ROSE
OLIVER SMALLWOOD

And of course, snakes that cuss you bad...

So far, nobody has picked up on the fact that the expedition includes the one and only Paul Rose , aka `Mr Biffo`, a man who in his own anarchic way is one of the funniest writers in the UK today.

Richard and I have both been massive fans of Biffo for years, and when he joined up to the CFZ earlier this year, we lost no time in inviting him to tea. Over copious amounts of margaritas we hatched a plan to send him along on a CFZ expedition to write it up in his own initable style.

His blog-me-do includes this inky fingered report on his involvement with the project..

PS. Snakes that cuss you bad..


Amongst the stable of characters Biffo
created for the late mented Digitiser on C4 teletext were The Snakes - A pair of beatboxing snakes, which would argue in a manner similar to that of Ali G (but pre-dating him by some years). Led to the catchphrase "I Cuss You Bad", along with the use of the word "Skank".

Paul is now off in search of some real life snakes, that we hope will not cuss him bad...