Guyana: A Land of Strange Creatures

We read and hear stories of strange creatures from all around the world: Scotland (Nessie and Morag), Puerto Rico (the Chupacabra), the Pacific Northwest (Bigfoot), and the Himalayas (the Yeti). And the list goes on and on. One place that many people may not know has its very own resident cryptids is the South American sovereign state of Guyana. Fortunately, we know of some of the enigmas of Guyana from Richard Freeman, a former keeper at Twycross Zoo, England. Of one of Freeman’s expeditions, of a few years back, we have the following from the man himself and who I was able to interview:

“One of the most interesting people we spoke with was a guy named Ernest. He was a former chief, but had retired to run a fish farm. He had seen a weird creature that everyone who lived in the villages in the Savannah called the ‘Red-Faced Pygmies.’ Wherever we went, we heard stories about these creatures, and met lots of witnesses to them, too. They all said the pygmies were about three-to-three-and-a-half-feet tall and had red faces. Another man, Kennard, said there was one these pygmies that haunted a certain stretch of the Savannah, and it would jump out and scare people; although, it never actually hurt anyone. They were described as having a weird grin on their faces; they walk erect, and have brown skin, rather than fur. All the people we spoke with were adamant they were some type of small human, rather than an animal. Our guide, Damon Corrie, saw one once. He said he was in a tent one night and woke up to see one of these things looking down at him. And there are still sightings to this day in the Savannah. I’d say they are probably a very primitive and very ancient tribe.”

I asked Freeman about reports of giant snakes in the area: “Ernest had seen a very big anaconda about ten years ago, and that was around thirty feet long. This was actually the skin of the snake; and apparently it had been shot by a British chap. From what we were told, if the story is true, then the snake was clearly transported back to England illegally. We were also told of huge anacondas, more than forty feet long, that were said to live in the caves at a place called Corona Falls. The problem for us was that this was seventy miles or more from where we were; and with the savage heat and the river water being too low to travel by boat, this was one area we weren’t able to get to in person.”

Kaieteur Falls

Now, let’s move onto what is known as the “Water Tiger.”

“We also went looking for this thing called the Water Tiger,” says Freeman. “We spoke with several witnesses about this. One was an old man called Joseph, who had seen a skin of the thing after it had been killed by hunters some time in the 1970s. He said it was definitely a mammal and about ten feet long. It was white with black spots, and had a head still attached that was kind of like a tiger’s head. He also said something very interesting: that the creature hunts in packs. Someone else, a guy named Elmo, told us a similar story: that there is a ‘Master Water Tiger,’ as he calls it, that sends the young ones out to hunt in the waters. Elmo is adamant they’re not jaguars or giant otters, but are something very different. And it’s very aggressive, too. Ernest told us he was on a boat with his uncle once, when something grabbed the boat, shook it violently, and they had to hang onto the overhanging tree branches to avoid getting thrown into the water. Ernest’s uncle said it was a Water Tiger.”

Giant sloth

There is also the matter of Guyana’s giant sloth, or Bigfoot. Maybe even both, as Freeman explains: “Before we went out there, we heard about this thing called the Didi, which was described as being enormous, covered in hair, and having large claws. This made me think it could actually have been some sort of surviving giant sloth. But when we got out there, everyone was adamant that the Didi is some sort of man, but covered in hair, and very similar to the Yeti or the Sasquatch. One story told to us dated from the 1940s, and was of a girl who got kidnapped by a Didi, lived with it, and apparently even had a half-breed child with it. Now, if that’s true, that would imply the Didi is a hominid rather than an ape. The story was she eventually escaped on a hunter’s canoe, and when the male Didi saw her leave, he supposedly ripped the half-breed child to pieces in a rage. We heard a couple of stories like this – of the Didi supposedly kidnapping people. But, I do think it’s possible that some of the Didi stories could well be mistaken sightings of a giant sloth that have become confused with the real Didi. So, the legends and stories might be based on two real creatures, rather than just one.”

Finally, there is this from Freeman: “We also heard tales of dragons living up in the mountains. And although we didn’t find the dragons, we did find a cave in the mountains where a burial had taken place and where there were a number of human skulls in an old pot. There was also a story from the 1950s we investigated of a group of cowboys who had tethered their horses near a lake one night and woke up to hear this loud breathing and the sounds of something big moving from the water towards the horses. Of course, they shot in the direction of whatever it was, and quickly untied the horses and left. All in all, it was a great expedition, and I hope to return there one day for a follow-up investigation.”

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