Monday, December 12, 2011

The CFZ: Novels and Forteana

This is very good news: the Center for Fortean Zoology has set up yet another publishing company (alongside CFZ Press and Fortean Words). The new one is called Fortean Fiction and, as its name suggests, it's solely dedicate to publishing novels on matters of a Fortean nature.

You can find out all about Fortean Fiction at this link at the CFZ's blog, including a new title from the CFZ's Richard Freeman, and a title on the Loch Ness Monster.

Monday, November 14, 2011

RIP Sahar Dimus

It's with sadness this evening that we learn of the death of the expert tracker Sahar Dimus.

The CFZ's zoological-director, Richard Freeman, writes these words:

February 3rd 1969- November 14th 2011

I first met Sahar in 2003 on the first of my trips to Sumatra in search of the orang-pendek. He was to be our chief guide and had been personally recommended by Debbie Martyr. I was surprised upon meeting him at hoe unassuming he was. A smiling, be-spectacled little man he could have easily passed for an accountant if dressed in a suit. A great example of how looks can be deceptive Sahar was a master of bushcraft and the most impressive guide I ever had in the jungle. He could tell what animal had passed and how long ago simply by the slightest disturbance of leaves that no one else would have noticed. He was immensely strong and fit and could carry huge weights up the steepest and most treacherous hills like an ant carrying a leaf up an anthill.

Not only that, he was a tiger shaman. His people held the tiger as a sacred animal, according to their tribal tradition the man who founded their tribe lived to a huge age before walking into the jungle and becoming a tiger. Tiger shaman are supposed to be able to call down the tiger spirit in tribal ceremonies. They are said to be able to look through the eyes of the tiger, observing far off things in the jungle and to become possessed by its spirit. Debbie herself had witnessed this and seen the happy, inoffensive Sahar turn into a feral, snarling dervish unrecognizable as himself.

He proved not only to be a great guide in the jungle but a great friend too. He was patient with slow bumbling westerners who found the terrain hard and the food harder. He held us spellbound around camp fires with stories of the jungle and the experiences of both himself and his late farther. He was a mine of information on both Sumatran folklore and wildlife.

So good was Sahar that we used him as chief guide all of the CFZ expeditions to Sumatra. We often stayed in his house at the foot of Gunung-Tuju with his lovely wife Lucy and his sons. Over our many trips we watched them grow up. His eldest Raffles was training to become a guide and accompanied us on our last expedition.

Sahar had lived and worked in the jungle for 14 years and had come across orang-pendek tracks and heard its call but never saw the creature until 2009 when he and Dave Archer encountered the creature in the clod forests of Gunung-Tuju. After the sighting he wept for a quarter of an hour due to the fact that he had no camera to capture an image of the beast on. Plans were afoot in 2011 to plant permanent camera traps in Kerinci Sablat National Park and had to pay Sahar to check the pictures each month.

On our last trip he seemed a little tired and slower than usual. His leg was hurting him. We all thought that in was nothing but age catching up with him and the rough terrain. I came home from the Fortean Times Unconvention 2011 to the news Sahar had died on 11th of November. He had been taken ill and was unable to walk. He was taken to hospital were apparently he was finding it hard to recognize people. He died shortly afterwards of what appears to be liver failure.

To me Sahar was Sumatra. He was just as much a part of Kerinci National Park as the lake, the mountain and the jungle. Sumatra and Sahar Dimus are inextricably linked in my mind; they are one in the same. Now he has gone it feels like a piece of Sumatra has died. The island can and will never be the same. He leaves behind him four children and a wife.

Goodbye old friend.

Sahar Dimus: Jungle guide, tiger shaman, orang-pendek witness and researcher.

Jersey Devil? Devil-Bat?

Andrew Gable has alerted me to a strange tale from years long-gone - 1928 to be precise - of a weird "Devil-Bat"-type beast that seems to possess certain, distinct Jersey Devil-type overtones. Here's the link.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Beast of Bowman Hill

This just in from CFZ-USA's Andrew Gable:

A few days ago, I received a message from Johnathan Lackey describing a sighting, which took place in Bucks County, Pennsylvania of something that seems similar to many of the descriptions of the Garden State's most famous monstrous resident, the Jersey Devil.

It's interesting that several reports of the Jersey Devil made during the week of January 16-23, 1909 were made in Bucks County in Bristol, Wycombe and Morrisville. In fact, Wycombe is only three miles from where this sighting occurred.

The actual sighting took place in 1977, when Lackey was a resident of Levittown. While driving south of Bowman's Tower (a landmark on the border of Upper Makefield and Solebury Townships) a creature leapt from the right side of the road. The creature was about the color of a deer and roughly the size of a medium-sized dog.

It had a body similar in build to a greyhound, a monkey-like face (which seemed to have a sheen to it), a long tail with a black tip, and rather long legs. It seemed to have a pair of owl-like wings, which were kept motionless as it moved across the road, leapt, and glided down the hillside opposite where it had emerged.

The area where this was seen has its own share of weirdness. Although the derivation of the Bowman name is unclear, one of the theories is a Dr. John Bowman, a crewman of the notorious Captain Kidd who was believed to have settled in eastern Pennsylvania and supposed in legend to have buried a treasure on the hill the tower is on (of course, the association of phantom dogs and buried treasure is a long one). There was also a copper mine of unknown provenance, although probably of German construction, found on the hill by accident in 1854.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Grease Devils

Check out the latest post from the CFZ's Micah Hanks over at Mysterious Universe, where he tells the strange story of the monstrous Grease Devils...

In Search of Orang-Pendek

The latest CFZ expedition to Sumatra - in search of the Orang-Pendek - has begun. And, as this link shows, this time it's a truly international quest to find the beast.

And here's Richard Freeman's second-of-two posts for England's Guardian newspaper on the creature-quest.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Attack of the Birds

At her Animal Forteana blog, Regan Lee highlights a very weird and disturbing story of attacks by ravens on farm animals across the British Isles. Is it merely just due to the fact that Britain's raven population is growing and there's a need for more food? Or is something stranger and far more ominous going on? Here's the story.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Micah & Manimals

The always-prolific and thought-provoking Micah Hanks addresses the potentially very disturbing issue of "Manimals..."

The CFZ's Weird Weekend - August 19-21

This just in from Jon Downes at the Head-Office of the Center for Fortean Zoology:

For one weekend a year the tiny North Devon village of Woolsery becomes the weirdest village in the land. The largest gathering of scholars of esoteric natural history in the English-speaking world, is set to take place in rural north Devon. The Centre for Fortean Zoology’s annual conference, the Weird Weekend, will see speakers from all over the country gathering Woolsery to discuss their work and discoveries.

The Weird Weekend,held over the weekend of the 19-21st August, now in its 12 year is the largest convention of its kind. This year’s speakers include one of the world’s leading geneticists Professor Bryan Sykes. Professor Sykes will be speaking on the yeti and samples of hair he has tested. Continuing the theme, cryptozoologist Richard Freeman will be talking about the Centre for Fortean Zoology’s latest expedition that took them into the Garo Hills of northern India on the track of the yeti.

Last year at the convention scientists announced that hairs found in local woodland were those of a leopard. These findings were later confirmed by DNA analysis. A world exclusive this year comes from Dr Darren Naish from Portsmouth University and Max Blake from Bristol University who will produce conclusive proof that over 100 years ago there were still mystery cats in Devon.

Other speakers include Fortean researcher Matt Salusbury who has been on the track of pigmy elephants in India, entomologist Nick Wadham on giant spiders, cryptozoologist Adam Davies on the orang-pendek, the mystery ape of Sumatra, and Glen Vaudrey on the waterhorse, a sea serpent from Scottish legend.

As well as monstrous creatures, other esoteric subjects are covered. Former police officer John Hanson describes UFO cases reaching back to the 1940s.

Other subjects include Ronan Coghlan on the labours of Hercules, and Henry Hartley on Fortean aspects of the modern Mayans.

As well as a series of talks there will be stalls, workshops and events.

The Weird Weekend raises funds for village charities dealing with children and for the Centre for Fortean Zoology, the only full time organization in the world dedicated to the investigation of mystery animals.

The Weird Weekend takes place from 19th-21st of August.
For further details visit
Or ring 01237 431413


* The Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] is the world’s largest mystery animal research organisation. It was founded in 1992 by British author Jonathan Downes (52) and is a company limited by guarantee registered with HM Government.

* Life-president of the CFZ is Colonel John Blashford-Snell OBE, best known for his groundbreaking youth work organising the ‘Operation Drake’ and ‘Operation Raleigh’ expeditions in the 1970s and 1980s.

* CFZ Director Jonathan Downes is the author and/or editor of over 20 books. His latest book is Island of Paradise, his first hand account of two expeditions to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in search of the grotesque vampiric chupacabra.

* The CFZ have carried out expeditions across the world including India, Russia, Sumatra, Mongolia, Guyana, Gambia, Texas, Mexico, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Illinois, Loch Ness, and Loch Morar.

* CFZ Press are the world’s largest publishers of books on mystery animals. They also publish Animals & Men, the world’s only cryptozoology magazine, and The Amateur Naturalist, Britain’s only dedicated magazine on the subject.

* The CFZ produce their own full-length documentaries through their media division called CFZtv. One of their films `Lair of the Red Worm` which was released in early 2007 and documents their 2005 Mongolia expedition has now been seen by nearly 90,000 people.

* The CFZ is based in Jon Downes’ old family home in rural North Devon which he shares with his wife Corinna (55). It is also home to various members of the CFZ’s permanent directorate and a collection of exotic animals.

* Jonathan Downes presents a monthly web TV show called On the Track which covers cryptozoology and work of the CFZ.

* Following their successful partnership with Capcom on the 2007 Guyana expedition, the CFZ are looking for more commercial sponsors.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Serpents of the Sea

At Mysterious Universe, Micah Hanks delves into those murky waters inhabited by strange creatures of the deep...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cryptids, Tulpas & Cryptomundo

Right now, over at Cryptomundo, there's a deep debate going on between me and various elements of the crypto-community on the merits (or otherwise!) of the theory that some (maybe even all) cryptid creatures are actually Tulpas. Not surprisingly, it's an issue that has provoked a wealth of debate. And it's an issue that the CFZ's Oregon-based rep, Regan Lee, has commented on, too, at her Animal Forteana blog.

Monday, May 2, 2011


The CFZ's North Carolina rep, Micah Hanks, addresses the idea of some seemingly unknown, or unidentified, sea-beasts being giant-eels. Here's the link to Micah's thought-provoking post.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

CFZ: The 2011 Yearbook Has Arrived!

Just like (A) Santa, (B) a re-run of a Morecambe and Wise Christmas show (which will mean nothing to you, unless you hail from the British Isles!), and (C) lots of drunken people singing Auld Lang Syne, the Center for Fortean Zoology's Yearbook is a once-a-year phenomenon.

And, I'm very pleased to announce, the 2011 edition - edited by the capable, ink-stained hands of Jon Downes - has just been published. As always, it provides the reader with a good and varied selection of papers. Here's the full listing of the CFZ's 2011 Yearbook:


TRUNKO: A Trio of World-Exclusives on ShukerNature. Here’s How It Happened! by Dr Karl Shuker


FLOGGING A DEAD HORSE: The Cryptozoological Aspects of the George Edalji Affair by Nick Redfern

INVENTED TRADITIONS AND REGIONAL IDENTITY: The case of the Black Dog of Bungay by Dr David Waldron










THE CRYPTOZOOLOGY OF POKÉMON (Generations 1-4) by Oll Lewis

CFZ USA 2010 Report by Nick Redfern

CFZ AUSTRALIA 2010 Report by Rebecca Lang and Mike Williams

CFZ ANNUAL REPORT 2010 by Jonathan Downes

If you're in Britain, you can buy the book here. And U.S. readers should click on this link.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Raven & Black-Dogs

Over at her Mysterious Haven blog, the CFZ's Michigan rep and good friend, Raven Meindel, delves deep into the legends of dastardly, glowing-eyed, paranormal hounds. As Raven says:

"From the haunting Moors of England to the distant forests of the Scottish Highlands and the mysterious Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, the legends have been passed down for generations. Stories of malignant, ghastly looking black hounds with glowing red eyes that roam the wastelands and plod through ancient forests in the night, baying and howling and bringing with them a supernatural feeling of ill will and bad omens. Locals are often frightened to the point of staying in doors for days on end and crossing themselves with holy water at the slightest mention of the foul beasts. In the late 1600's hundreds and early 1700's, they were often associated with witches, either accompanying them to black masses or being one in the same as shape-shifting counterparts."

And here's the link to the complete article.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cthulhu News

The CFZ's North Carolina's representative, Micah Hanks, delves into the world of H.P. Lovecraft's Great Cthulhu...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cloaked Creatures

Andrew D. Gable - the CFZ's rep for Pennsylvania and Maryland - addresses the macabre phenomenon of cloaked entities from the outer-edge.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Frame 352

If you're into the stranger side of Bigfoot, remember to keep checking Regan Lee's Frame 352, where you will find some very thought-provoking posts on Sasquatch and the paranormal.

Bigfoot and the Government

Here's a fascinating post I overlooked when it was published (last month). From the CFZ's North Carolina rep Micah Hanks, it digs into the murky world of Bigfoot and the Government...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Animal Forteana

Keep checking Regan Lee's Animal Forteana site, as there are some fascinating new posts, including updates on the recent bird-deaths...