In a week when the Russian government claimed to have found “indisputable proof’ of Yeti existence in the Siberian Mountains, Craig Scott investigates Andalucia’s strangest creature sightings…
SPANISH folklore is best kept for stormy Halloween nights. It’s the type of stuff that needs howling winds, flickering camp-fires and waves battering off coastal rocks.
However, we’re not talking mythical demons or religious rituals here… oh no… we’re talking real-life sightings reported in reputable newspapers. So, before you wander down to your nearby woods or take a dip in the local stream – be sure to read these tales.
La Cala Cougar
The Cougar – described as a large, shiny-black creature similar to a panther, has been blamed for a series of attacks on goats, pigs and dogs over the past four years.
In one incident, over a dozen Iberican pigs were found torn from limb-to-limb at a remote farm in Campillos.
Since the Olive Press first broke the story in 2007, there have been dozens of credible sightings across south Andalucia.
The last known spot (not in the cheetah sense) came in January 2010, when pensioner Joyce Mariekeen, 66, witnessed an alien feline “skulking along a country road.”
The Guardia Civil and Mijas Council have conducted numerous investigations into the sightings and grainy photographs and camcorder footage have also been examined. However, big cat specialists claim that although some of the maulings bear the hallmarks of a panther, the video evidence is too vague to prove conclusive.
This said, few villagers dismiss the story altogether and livestock is being kept under close wraps.
Chillingly, if a cougar is stalking the campo of La Cala, it’s unlikely to be operating alone. A spokesperson from the University of Malaga explained that a lone big cat will usually survive on rabbits and other small prey. “The fact that it’s killing 150 kg pigs suggests there’s extra mouths to feed.”
Sevilla Sea Beast
This saga began with a report in Spain’s ABC Newspaper in 1955. After a tip-off from a member of the public, a reporter witnessed a strange creature lurking in the depths of the Rio Genil in Écija.
The beast was described as being: ‘the size of a wolfhound, but with a far longer body.’ It was also said to have a dark red back and pointed snout.
As two dark horns (roughly 20cm long) broke the surface of the murky waters, panic broke out on the river bank. Within minutes, a gang of gardeners had arrived at the scene – and began firing shots at the object. The gunfire startled the creature and it submerged itself underwater. When the shooting ceased, it resurfaced further downstream.
As reporters descended on the town, onlookers were describing everything from dinosaurs to a hairy, horned pig. One witness, however, journalist Luca de Tena, wrote that the “monster” was likely to be a manatee.
Was the monster a manatee?
Manatees – or Sea Cows as they’re commonly known, are 13ft marine mammals that live in shallow, marshy coastal areas. They are commonly found in tropical waters – particularly in the Caribbean, Amazon Basin and West African Atlantic.
To date, there have been no confirmed sightings in Spanish seas – let alone in mainland rivers some 240km from the coast. Sea Cows are also grey in colour and completely horn-less.
It’s unclear what the bloated beast was feeding off, but some witnesses claimed it was attacking “gallos” (cocks) on the river’s edge. As sea cows are vegetarian, this carnivorous behaviour would appear to dispel the manatee theory.
As chicken carcases piled up, some even claimed a chupacabra (a mythical, blood-sucking fiend) was on the loose.
Then, after a three-year hiatus, the Sevilla Sea Beast turned up in Cordoba – some 40km downstream. An ABC story read: “Don Nicolas Chapparo has captured a strange animal resembling a buffalo in the Rio Genil. It has no eyes, but possesses six legs and a large horn on its forehead.”
Was it the same species as seen in Écija in 1955, minus one of its horns? To this day, nobody knows.
For cryzoologists and geeky journalists like me – unresolved mysteries like these add much needed spice to life. In today’s faceless world of Starbucks and sprawling shopping malls, we need the romance of monsters and sea serpents more than ever!
Looking back, why did those Spanish gardeners try to kill something that posed them no threat? And why do drunken lynch mobs go on the hunt everytime a colossal cat print is found in the hills? Like Nietzshe once said: “He who fights with monsters should be careful…. lest he thereby become a monster.”
Therefore, if you see a giant, orb-like pair of eyes – glaring at you this Halloween, don’t scream and don’t reach for the rifle. Simply thank God that mystery and magic still exists in this sceptical and scientific world. However, if it bares its teeth and lunges towards you, forget this blog and run for the hills!