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Media Article # 501

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Malaysia Govt Considering Making Bigfoot Mystery A Tourist Draw

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 (Bernama) -- The Tourism Ministry is considering making the Bigfoot mystery in Johor an attraction to bring more tourists to the country.

Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said Thursday the ministry would look into how to package the attraction but would not make up stories for visitors.

Apart from claims by several Orang Asli that they had sighted Bigfoot, there has been no proof as to its existence in the jungles of Johor.

It was similar to the Loch Ness monster in Scotland, the minister told reporters after launching the Special Hotel Packages 2006 booklet on hotel packages in the country.


Bibliographical Information:

Bernama is Malaysia's National News Agency

BFRO Commentary:

There is absolutely no risk to the integrity of Bernama, nor the dignity of Malaysia, if the Malaysia bigfoot story receives some of their attention.

Eventually the Bernama editors will see that it is not a tabloid story. Rather, it is a unique science/animal story that has global interest. Science/animal stories are always positive, and uplifting, and never risky, in a political sense.

This particular science/animal story might seem odd to the Bernama editors at present, but we predict in the future it will be a tremendous source of pride for the entire country.

It is natural to waver in doubt if you have not seen a bigfoot yourself, especially if you work deep in a city, where you do not have a full sense of how much forested land there still is out there.

The forested lands in Malaysia may seem small on a map. If they appear that way on a map, they will seem much, much bigger once you spend a few days in them, and not just along the roads.

We can see from maps and aerial photos that there are a few different mountainous zones, and river/swamp zones, in peninsular Malaysia, that are each as large, or larger, than the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. It appears that more than ten Olympic Peninsulas could fit within peninsular Malaysia. We have reason to believe, based on our own expeditions, that there may be as many as a few hundred bigfoots in the Olympic Peninsula alone. So it would appear, from our perspective, that there is plenty of space for a healthy, scattered population in portions of peninsular Malaysia. A few hundred of them may still be residing there, but they may only rarely seen or heard.

If they were easy to find they would have been "discovered" long ago. Expect them to be difficult to find. In a thick rainforest environment, a group of searchers could walk right past one of them and never know it. They will hold very still in a forest when humans are nearby.

Do not assume these animals will only be found in the biggest mountain ranges, or in the biggest national forests. As in the US, they will often inhabit the secondary forests bordering agricultural areas, whereever there is enough forest cover for them to remain hidden in the daytime, and an abundance of edible plants and prey animals.

The best "indicator species" for bigfoot habitats in Malaysia may turn out to be wild pigs. It may be their main prey. We lean in this direction because it seems to be their main prey in the part of the continental US that is the closest thing to a tropical environment - Florida. There is always lots of wild pigs in the areas with the most sighting reports in Florida.

If the BFRO were to come to Malaysia, the first thing we would do is meet with people like Vincent Chow, then we would want to see the map showing the locations of all the recent and historical sightings and track finds, even those based on hearsay information. We would look for patterns in that map, and then we would want to add another map layer on top of that -- the layer showing where wild pigs are in greatest abundance, especially where they have become a nuisance to farmers.


Something to consider, regarding the flow of sighting information from the public, especially farmers:

It is possible that farmers and other rural people in Malaysia may worry about reporting sightings, especially if the government seems to be very interested in those locations. They may worry that the government will take their land, or somehow disrupt their land and their lives in a negative way. We see that in the US, so we suspect it may be a factor in Malaysia as well.

It is hard to overcome those kinds of worries with famers and other rural people. We are able to overcome it because of the pervasiveness of Internet access among farmers nowadays in the US. We can make our case to them directly.

We assume that most rural people in Malaysia do not have computers with Internet access. If that is true, then the next best way to work around the potential worries of private land owners, and to increase the flow of actionable information, is to offer, and publicize, a monetary reward ($1000 or so) for information leading to compelling evidence of the existence of these animals.

Obviously it is worth $1000 to the Johor state government (or a major newspaper) to get more information, if it actually leads to some compelling evidence (i.e. fresh tracks, photos, video, hairs, etc.).

The Johor state government will actually be saving many thousands of dollars if their expeditions are benefitting from all of the observations from all the citizens, including private land owners.

Here's how the reward dynamic will function among those who may be hesitant to report things:

The farmers, etc., who have observed things on or near their land, and who may not want to report them to the government, will not be persuaded by the reward. It will not make a difference to them. The continuity of their lives will be more important to them. However, the reward will make a difference to the people those farmers talk to. The reward will motivate the friends and family members to talk to the government. That is how rewards usually work.

The Johor state government should try to be careful and sympathetic in these situations, if they receive information from someone who is worried about the consequences. Government officials who make contact should endeavor to show private land owners that they will not regret revealing what they know. It will help in the long run if they demonstrate sympathy, and take care of those landowners if they worry about what may happen to their land.

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