For Western scientists this former cryptids story begins in the late 1980s, when Tim Flannery, a senior research scientist with the Australia Museum in Sydney, received a photograph showing an unknown creature known locally as the bondegezou (“man of the forests”), from the Mauke Mountain Range of Irian Jaya, the Indonesian province of New Guinea. Flannery immediately recognized it as a young tree kangaroo. But it was not until May 1994, when he conducted a sponsored survey of the wildlife of the region, that he realized the animal in the picture was new to zoology.

Located in dense, mossy pine forest about ten thousand to eleven thousand feet up on the southern slopes of the Moni people’s homeland, the bondegezou is a boldly colored marsupial with a white star in the middle of its forehead, two white blazes across its black muzzle, a striking white underbelly, and long black fur over its back and head. Males are around thirty inches tall and weigh about thirty pounds. The tail is the shortest for any kangaroo relative to body size, at twenty inches, and though adapted well for tree life, the bondegezou lives mostly on the ground. It descends from trees like a human being with hind legs first. When threatened, it puts its arms over its head, showing its white belly and sounding off at the same time with a whistle.

While the Moni tribe, who revere it, do not kill it, apparently the neighboring Dani do. And it is from the Dani that Flannery received his first real evidence of the bondegezou, in the form of skins and assorted trophies. In June 1994, Flannery returned to the Australian Museum with “remnants” of five of the tree kangaroos, thus moving this cryptid known only to the local natives to the status of an accepted animal within Western zoology. Although a formal scientific journal description has yet to be submitted, Flannery and a group of Indonesian zoological museum researchers decided to release the announcement of the discovery to the press in July 1994. To date no bondegezou exists in captivity.


The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters,Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature
Written by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark – Copyright 1999 Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark

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