An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Mysteries Abound

PNG, or one island at least, is an excellent place to have wacky mysterious stories emerge. All it needs here is a alleged sighting in a remote village, which soon becomes fact amoung the villagers and then it will go like wild-fire and spreads to the international press.

Well one story at least did. It is the story of a half dog/crocodile creature found in New Britain which hit the news agencies back in March.
Villagers in the superstitious island province of East New Britain this week said they fled in terror after seeing a three-metre tall, grey-coloured creature with a head like a dog and a tail like a crocodile.
A search was organised but nothing was found. It is good to see though that people are thinking of the possibilies.
Kokopo's Mayor Albert Buanga said the dinosaur would make a great tourist attraction, if it existed.

It also seems that dinosaurs are elsewhere on New Britain. I received a group e-mail from a Unitech staff member about another alleged beast called a Ropen. See what you make of this ...

Shortly after World War II, as Western missionaries began to penetrate the deep jungles and remote islands of Papua New Guinea, stories of a flying creature called the Ropen ("demon flyer") began to be reported. Described as a nocturnal creature, the Ropen possesses two leathery wings like a bat, a long tail with a diamond-shaped flange on the end, a beak filled with teeth, and razor-sharp claws. The creatures inhabit the caves that dot the islands of New Britain and Umboi, located in the Bismarck Archipelago. Reports seem to fit the presumed-extinct Rhamphorhynchus, a pterodactyl with a wingspan of 3-4 feet. Like the Kongamato in Kenya, the Ropen is said to have a taste for decaying human flesh and has even harassed native funeral gatherings with western missionaries present. Carl E. Baugh of the Creation Evidence Museum has conducted two Ropen expeditions to New Guinea. He observed one of the creatures through a monocular night scope and snapped a picture of a strange print in the sand the next morning. In 1987, Tyson Hughes, an English missionary, began an 18 month contract to assist the Moluccan tribespeople of Ceram Island, Indonesia to develop efficient farms. Tyson heard stories about a terrifying creature called the Orang-bati ("men with wings") that possesses enormous leathery wings like a bat and live in the caves of Mount Kairatu, an extinct volcano situated in the center of the island.

An artists impression of the Ropen
Call me a sceptic but this sounds like another village story gone wild. As the SMH article points out they are a superstious mob over on New Britain.

As a reply to the Ropen e-mail above one of the other guys at Unitech sent an e-mail stating that he had never heard of the Ropen but he knew of a couple of other beasts in West New Britain. These being the "Piuli" which is apparantly a wild humanoid and the "Pote" who is a sky swimming ghost. Hmmm this looks like it is starting to get out of hand.

Not only mysterious beasts get a run in but spirits and ghosts as well. Back in East New Britain one of my volunteer wantoks on the Duke of York islands keeps sending e-mails about Duk-duks which are apparantly spirits of the dead (correct me if I am wrong).

When a Duk-duk turns up, every one runs and hides. The problem is for my mate, he has no idea when they turn up as you can't see them ... or only certain people can see them ... I think. I need to read the e-mail again. It is all very complicated over there.