Saturday, 12 July 2008

Transcript of answerfone message from 12.37pm today.

"Hi Jon, this is Richard. We are in Moscow Airport at the minute - this is just a bit of an update. We have more hair, more dung, and what might be fingerbones.

We've spoken to, and interviewed, a lot more witnesses; we've staked out an amazing place that was a ruined restaurant that was built like a castle where one of these things is supposed to have scared off a bunch of policemen by screaming. There is loads of stuff on the cameratraps, that we're bringing back, though I'm pretty certain most of it will be bats. ok i'll try and phone again a bit later on"...

Richard sounded exhausted. At the moment we have no further news of when he will return to the CFZ...

Friday, 11 July 2008

While we wait for news from Richard and Chris...

Assuming that everything goes according to plan, Richard and Chris will be back in the country this weekend. In the meantime, Nick Redfern has interviewed Adam Davies:

While Richard Freeman is still out there, Adam returned to England a couple of days before I interviewed him - and he had much to say about the beast, the expedition and more. And with that all said, here's the interview!

NR: Adam, what was it that got you involved in the Almasty expedition?

AD: In the first instance, I went down to the CFZ's Weird Weekend conference last year. Jon Downes invited me to do a talk on the Congo: I had been there looking for the Mokele-mbembe, as you know from my book. While I was there, I saw the talk by Grigoriy Panchenko on the Almasty; and I was really impressed by his depth of knowledge and research. So, I considered the idea of going.

AD: I then found out that Richard [Freeman] from the CFZ was also planning on going. So, Richard said: "Why don't we join forces and go?" It made sense, so that's what we did.

NR: And, for you, what were the big revelations and developments?

AD: As far as what we achieved, my view has always been that anything you find in field-research has to be independently, scientifically analyzed. That's the ultimate test for all of these things. Now, in terms of evidence, what we got first was eye-witness reports - some more credible than others. Some of it was anecdotes from old guys - such as an old guy telling us over his cognac how his dad saw an Almasty. But that's not much in the way of evidential value.

AD: But, we also spoke with a direct eye-witness, a guy called Tahir, who had seen an Almasty in 2005. His sheep were being disturbed, and he had seen this large Almasty watching him. So, we got a lot of good eye-witnesses of that sort. Interestingly, many of them described the Almasty as having this conical-shaped head, rather like the Yeti.

AD: We also found some evidence that can be analyzed properly: skull fragments and some strange bones found in caves. But what really excited me was in a place where there had been Almasty activity Dave Archer found a nest - what looked like a nest, and it didn't appear to have been made by any animal that I could recognize that was indigenous to the area. And we found around 20 hairs there which can be analyzed. And we can get the DNA extracted from them, too.
AD: But even if the evidence isn't conclusive, I've still learned a lot more about the Almasty, and about its numbers: there's probably between 100 and 300 of them in the area we were investigating. And if we went back again, we'd have a better opportunity. There's nothing wrong with armchair research, but my job is as a field researcher. That's what I'm into; and finding any evidence that can be analyzed scientifically. And I think the scientific community is starting to listen to us more now. There's a huge upswing in interest in cryptozoology.

AD: There was also a case we investigated of an Almasty seen at a barn in the area - which happened to be the scene of a triple-murder. You could hear the jackals howling, and it was well spooky! In 2005, a couple of shepherds had been sleeping in the barn. One had come outside, and there was an Almasty going for their food. It didn't attack the shepherd, but physically moved him from one place to another.

AD: On the first night when I was doing the stake-out with Dave, one of the Russians, Anatoly, claimed to have heard an Almasty calling; but I didn't hear that. But on the second night, me and Richard were doing a stake-out. On this occasion, both of us heard movement across the front of the barn, and we saw a large shape. You can imagine the adrenalin rush: we both rushed out, but the thing had gone. So, I can't say I saw an Almasty; and it's important to stress that. But there was a lot of interest and evidence around that barn - which was in the mountains.

NR: And based on the investigation, have you reached a personal conclusion as to what you think the Almasty is or isn't?

AD: I'd say I have a tentative conclusion; but that's partly going to be decided by what we get back from the analysis. I'd say there's certainly more of them than in, say, Mongolia. But it's a different sort of hominid. If there are pockets of something that were related to Homo Erectus, and that got pushed into remote areas and isolated geographically, then I don't see anything inconsistent with having pockets in different places that might mutate differently. For example, the Orang-Pendek is clearly a different creature from the Almasty.

AD: I really don't think it's Neanderthal in anyway though. I've never been a big fan of the Neanderthal theory for the Almasty. I think they are relic hominids; and I've always felt that. For example, I've never seen any evidence of them using tools or fire. And even if there was cultural recession, it wouldn't be to the extent where there would be no use of fire or tools at all, if these were Neanderthals. And if they were using fire, particularly at night, you'd see it in the mountains. But there's no evidence of that.

NR: Any final words on the expedition?

AD: It was definitely worth going. But, of course, it's always going to be difficult to prove anything in just 2 or 3 weeks. But the team as a whole, I think, would say we have learned a lot about the Almasty and its movements. And I would like to go back at some point.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Day 14: Back Home

Adam, Keith and Dave are back home with the samples. Everyone is safe and well. There will be updates and pictures in the next few days..

DAY 14: Just a quicky

Richard telephoned at an ungodly hour this morning. He was only on the line for about 60 seconds, but they are heading up into the mountains to investigate some more caves.

Disappointingly, it looks like the tooth sample is no more than a fairy tale. The man who claimed to have it now claims that it was spirited away by the djinn, and promised a hair from `the mother of all the almasty` which turned out to be a vergetable fibre.

However, the bone, hair and scat samples are secure enough, and I believe that Adam is bringing them back to the UK as we speak.

More news when we get it....

Friday, 4 July 2008

Day 13: The murder scene, a shadow in the night, the team split in two

Adam just telephoned. Most of the last three days has involved staking out a derelict barn where the almasty has been seen on several occasions. It was - Adam tells me with a shiver in his voice - the site of a triple murder some years ago, and theexperience was more than a little creepy.

The camera traps have not yet revealed anything special, but one night, when Richard and Adam were in the barn they saw a huge shadow flit by the window. They rushed out onto the derelict balcony but it had gone.

Adam wants me to stress that they DIDN'T see the almasty. They merely saw a huge, man-shaped shadow in a place where the almasty has been seen on many occasions. But it is good supporting evidence.

Dave, Keith and Adam are on their way back to Britain, and will be arriving late on saturday night. This is because they have more convcentional jobs and family structures than Richard and Chris who will be staying for another week, during which they will be carrying out the DNA swab tests provided by Professor Bryan Sykes.

Adam stressed that he has a lot more to tell me, but that at £1.98 a minute via a mobile phone it will be easier to wait until sunday or monday when we will have a long chat with him and be posting the first pictures from the expedition.

It ain't over yet........

Monday, 30 June 2008

Day Nine: Almasty teeth, giant snakes, and Indiana Freeman

It had been a couple of days since I had last spoken to Adam, and once again my incipient paranoia was beginning to kick into action. Just before lunch today, he phoned again, and although he told me first of all that I needn't worry, and that all five expedition members were alive and well, he told me that there had been a couple of close shaves, and passed me over to Richard.

"I nearly died... twice" said Richard, and although he was being characteristically bullish about the whole affair, I have known him a long time, and I could tell that the experiences had really shaken him. He told me had the first time, he was trying to cross the ice sheet, when he fell down a crevasse, and slid a hundred feet on his tummy, and just managed to grab onto a rock to save himself. He lost his digital camera and - bizarrely - his front door key, but otherwise, apart from being shaken he was OK. However, soon after he was walking along the edge of a cliff, when it collapsed, and once again he fell down a ravine. He grabbed hold of a tree, Indiana Jones style, and dangled above the ravine until his colleagues managed to pull him back to safety.

Dave also managed to fall down another crevasse, waist deep, and had to be pulled out.

All this happened on the way to the place, where - a few days ago - a witness called Sergei allegedly found found the fresh corpse of a female almasty only a few years ago. The boys had been under the impression that it was a relatively short half hour trot from the village, but whether this was because something had been lost in translation, or whether the five boys from England were just not as adept at dealing with the unfamiliar terrain, or whether even - as I have found on many occasions in the past - the local witnesses completely exaggerated the distance, just to try and make their new friends happy, I don't know, but the half hour stroll turned into four hours plus of gruelling trek across rocks, ice sheets and some of the most unforgiving terrain Richard, at least, has ever crossed.

Then, only a stonesthrow from the location of the unfortunate almasty's final resting place, Richard succumbed to altitude sickness. This is no joke. I suffered from it about ten years ago, high in the mountains above Mexico City. It is a most peculiar sensation. It is like the delirium that one gets with a high fever, mixed with a hangover, and it is one of the most unpleasant experiences that I have ever been through.

Sadly, although they excavated the place where the makeshift grave was supposed to have been situated, it was too no avail. The body was long gone. But in an area where bears, jackals and other scavengeing carrion eaters are common this is hardly surprising.

However the news is not all disappointing. Dave Archer apparently found what may be an almasty 'nest' in the woods, and they have at least 20 hairs for analysis. They have also been promised a putative almasty tooth for analysis.

This evening the party have split into two. Dave and Adam are going to set up trigger cameras in a derelict barn where there have been a string of sightings, including one by the guide Sergei (mentioned above), in 1986.

They spoke to the Vice President of the National Park who had a sighting of the almasty three years ago. It was dusk, and he originally thought that the creature was a sleeping cow. But it got to its feet and he realised that It was humaniform. He spoke to it in Balkar and in Russian, but there was no answer. He didn’t see its face, but noted its huge domed head.

Another guide, Anatoli, and his father, have both reported sightings of the giant snake. They describe it as being about 7m long and being the colour of the bark of a poplar tree.
The expedition, despite setbacks, is going well, and we look forward to the next installment.