From Borneo, situated east of Sumatra (the home of the cryptid ape known as Orang-Pendek) come stories of an approximately four-and-a- half-foot-tall strange ape referred to as the Batatut. Just before I get to the Batatut, though, it’s important that I share with you information on the Orang-Pendek, as it’s a part of the overall story. Given that the Orang-pendek walks upright, just as we do, and stands at a height of four and a half to five feet in height, its name is highly appropriate. In English, it translates to “short man.” Most witnesses to the creature describe it as having black or brown hair; however, a somewhat reddish colored hair has also been reported in a minority of cases. Also echoing the idea of the Orang-Pendek having somewhat human qualities, it is sometimes said to have a head of long, flowing hair extending to the shoulders. Now, we’ll return to the Batatut – and after that we’ll address the possible connections between the two mysterious apes. Maybe, direct connections.
Just like all unidentified apes, this one is covered in hair. There is, however, one intriguing difference: the Batatut sports a noticeable, thick mane of hair that runs down the back of its head, not unlike that of a horse, and which is identical to what we know of the Orang-Pendek. Somewhat ominously the Batatut is said to have a particular liking of human meat – and an even greater liking of human livers. A fascinating, and very credible, account that may have a direct bearing upon the story of the Batutut is that of zoologist, John MacKinnon. In 1970, while on Borneo he stumbled upon a series of unusual, small, human-like footprints. Mackinnon said: “I stopped dead. My skin crept and I felt a strong desire to head home…farther ahead I saw tracks and went to examine them. I found two dozen footprints in all. I was uneasy when I found them, and I didn’t want to follow them and find out what was at the end of the trail. I knew that no animal we know about could make those tracks. Without deliberately avoiding the area I realize I never went back to that place in the following months of my studies.” There is, however, far more to the matter of the Batatut.
The Veterans Site state of this strange creature: “Regional variants from Laos and Borneo have added to the Batatut mythos for decades, but many more are shared within the Vu Quang Nature Reserve. The people who live there call the creature Batutut, but also ‘Ujit,’ or ‘Người rừng,’ loosely translated as, ‘jungle people.’ The Batatut range in ferocity, depending on regional legend, with the most aggressive variants found in Borneo. The first recorded sighting of the Batatut was in 1918, but it wasn’t until war razed the jungle habitats that stories of the Batatut’s rage became more popular.”
Brent Swancer says: “Even before fighting started in the jungles of Vietnam there had long been stories of something strange lurking in the remote areas here. Various peoples of the jungle choked interiors of Vietnam, Laos, and northern Borneo, in particular within the Vu Quang Nature Reserve, have a rich tradition of stories of a bipedal, hairy apelike creature known by various names, such as the Batutut, Ujit, or Người rừng, also written as Nguoi Rung, or ‘jungle people.’” Brent continues: “Although they inhabit isolated, remote jungle areas, the Người rừng are reported to be rather bold and aggressive, especially the variety from Borneo, which will apparently attack humans without thinking twice about it. They are said to travel in troops and are most active at dusk or during the night. The locals of these regions consider these creatures to be merely a fact of life, but the Batutut was not really known to the outside world until war began to impede into their domain.”
One final thing of importance: the distance from Borneo to Sumatra is only 885 miles. That’s not a long distance, when we look at the size of the entirety of planet Earth. Is it possible, then, that the Batatut and the Orang-Pendek crossed paths in the distant past? And, if so, did they have the ability to take to the water in sturdy canoes? It might sound bizarre and even outrageous to muse upon that scenario, but the fact is there are stories of small, hairy, ape-type creatures using canoes. Canada, for example, has the Memegwesi. They are said to be primitive ape-like humans that are a major part of the lore of the Ojibwe, Cree, Innu, Metis, Algonquin, and Menominee Indians. They are hairy things, around four feet tall at adulthood, and, according to legend, have had a good relationship with the Indians for many centuries. They are significantly developed too, having a language and also the ability to construct sturdy canoes, in which they hunt for fish. In light of the Canadian legends, it doesn’t seem too farfetched to suggest that the Batatut may have successfully made trips across the waters from Borneo to Sumatra – and back again. This brings us to an important question: are the Batatut and the Orang-Pendek actually one and the same, but inhabiting two separate areas of land? Perhaps!