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Scientific expedition to survey species in China’s Bigfoot territory

The entrance to Shennongjia Nature Reserve.
The entrance to Shennongjia Nature Reserve.

This month, nearly 40 scientists will enter a wild and remote region of western China, reports China’s state media Xinhua. Spending several weeks in Shennongjia Nature Reserve, the researchers hope to study rare species like the golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana), which is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List. But the forest is also the source of China’s ‘wild man’ sightings; known locally as the ‘Yeren,’ the unconfirmed primate has also been dubbed China’s Bigfoot.

The Shennongjia Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, is home to 3,700 plants and over 1,000 animals, including leopards (Panthera paradus), the Asian golden cat (Pardofelis temminckii), the golden pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus), and the Chinese giant salamander (Megalobatrachus davidianus), which is considered Critically Endangered as well as being listed as number two by the EDGE program in a catalog of the world’s 100 most endangered and evolutionary unique amphibians.

The reserve may also still harbor the South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis), which hasn’t been sighted in the wild for around 40 years. Many scientists believe the South China tiger to be extinct in the wild and conservation plans have now shifted to reintroducing the subspecies.

According to Xinhua, over 400 people have also reported seeing the Yeren, or Chinese wild man, in these rugged montane forests. However, much like the Yeti of the Himalayas and the Sasquatch of North America, the species has never been confirmed by scientists and remains in the realm of legend and cryptozoology.

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