The investigation into the Shennongjia "wild men" made great progress when witnesses identified two footprints left along the Licha River where the two mysterious creatures had been spotted.
An investigative team consisting of journalists and officials from the local government and scientific investigators were sent out along the Licha River to conduct a thorough investigation on November 20. Two days later professionals from China Association for Scientific Expedition joined them.
The bigger footprint discovered was 30 centimeters long with a width of eight centimeters at the heel and 12 centimeters at the sole.
The team discovered a series of irregular footprints, averaging one meter apart, along the riverbank. They also found three branches believed to have been broken by the "wild men" in the shrubbery beside the footprints. Two barefoot prints of different sizes were discovered behind a stone. Pointing in the same direction, these adjacent footprints were both identified belonging to left feet. The bigger one was 30 centimeters long with a width of eight centimeters at the heel and 12 centimeters at the sole. The smaller one was 18 centimeters long with an arch-like outside edge.
Veteran forest rangers rooted out the possibility that the footprints belonged to known animals such as bears, antelopes or deer.
The team then reached two of the witnesses, a local resident Wang and his friend Zhang from Xiangfan, Hubei Province. They recalled their encounter with the two mysterious creatures on the morning of November 18. Zhang, along with his guide Wang and other friends, was driving along the Licha River, heading for Laojun Mountain. They were approaching a sharp curve in the mountain road when they spotted two giant, dark figures standing behind a tangled mass of shrubbery some 50 meters away from their car.
According to the witnesses, the two "wild men" were skinny and covered with black hair. The taller one was about 1.7 meters high and the other one was approximately 1.3 to 1.4 meters. Both were quite agile because they quickly fled into the dense forest as soon as they saw the car.
The witnesses' testimony was in accordance with the investigation results. The investigation team has made a preliminary conclusion that the thrilling event was indeed a real life sighting of a group of upright human-shaped creatures.
According to Luo Yongbin, an official from the foreign affairs office of Shennongjia Nature Reserve government, all the investigation results and evidence, including two plaster models of the footprints, will be submitted soon to the central government. The whole investigation process has been videotaped. All suspicious evidence has been photographed for further analysis.
(China.org.cn by Huang Shan November 27, 2007)