Wildlife & Biodiversity

‘Yeti is a vehicle to connect with our wild past’

While the India Army claims to have seen tracks of the mythical Himalayan monster in snow, here’s an interview of American scholar Daniel C Taylor, whose 60-year Yeti quest ended with him discovering that Yeti is actually a bear

By Akshit Sangomla
Published: Tuesday 30 April 2019

Danile C Taylor

American scholar Daniel C Taylor, in his book Yeti: The Ecology of a Mystery, talks about how he has always been mesmerised by the Yeti, so much so that he searched for this elusive being for 60 years. Taylor narrates his travels in the Himalayan valleys to locate the Yeti’s home. In the process, he informs the reader that the abominable snowman is more than just a wild man of the woods.

He spoke to Down To Earth about the significance the mythical monster holds for him and its part in the Nepali culture. Excerpt:

What significance does the Yeti hold for you?

The Yeti symbolises our yearning for the wild past. While I have found the animal, I am still searching for the wild. I get wet in the rain when I walk. I walk at night with my torch turned off, so that I can experience nocturnal sounds. There is so much to understand about the wild. The Yeti is a vehicle to do that.

Is the Yeti as much a part of Nepal's culture now as it was before?

The Yeti has encompassed the entire Nepali culture now. Earlier, only the Sherpas believed in it. The idea passed on from them to mountaineers. Scientific expeditions were launched by the Royal Geographical Society, Sir Edmund Hillary, World Book Encyclopedia and others. The Nepalis started asking about the Yeti. Now, many Yetis exist—in people's minds, children's tales, even in beer, whiskey and T-shirts. There is even the Yeti Airlines.

Are local people happy to be involved in conservation effort in Makalu-Barun valley?

I visited the Makalu-Barun National Park after a two-decade hiatus. The people are proud of it and would like to offer more services to tourists. Also, people are growing increasingly interested in the Yeti because a trekking route has been completed through the middle of the jungle in Barun Valley. It is called the Yeti Trail. It starts from Barun Bazaar and ends at Makalu Base Camp.

How can we deal with the new wild better?

People have a choice. Do we want to hide inside homes or go out into the wild? I believe that by going outside and embracing nature we can connect with today's wild. There are many ways—taking a route never tread before, sitting down under a tree and being still. If people do these things, they will be complete beings. Buddha did these. So did many Hindu Gods. Jesus also went into the wilderness. The native Americans call this the great medicine. We have created a new false wild. We see it on YouTube and in movies. It shows animals having sex and nursing babies. It is wild by someone else's definition. But this is not going into the real wild and discovering it.

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