For many years, residents living along the Great Kali River at the border between India and Nepal have claimed that a mysterious underwater creature is catching and devouring humans who dare to venture into the river. The rumours have now been investigated by biologist Jeremy Wade, who says the perpetrator might be a Goonch catfish (Bagarius yarrelli).
Local residents says that the creature probably changed its diet to include freshly caught human flesh after getting used to eating the remains of partly burned corpses. In Hinduism, corpses are traditionally cremated in pyres as a as part of the funeral rite and the remains are often placed in a river.
“The locals have told me of a theory that this monster has grown extra large on a diet of partially burnt corpses,” says Wade. “It has perhaps got this taste for flesh by feasting on remains of funeral pyres. There will be a few freak individuals that grow bigger than the other ones and if you throw in extra food, they will grow even bigger.”
Last year, and 18-year-old Nepali was dragged into the river by a creature described as “an elongated pig”, but this was not the first attack. 10 years ago, a 17-year-old Nepali was pulled below the surface while bathing, and three months later the same thing happened to another young boy.
Jeremy Wade is a biologist and TV presenter who investigated the Kali River-rumours for a TV documentary. You can find out more about him and his work here. (http://www.jeremywade.co.uk/about_jeremy_wade.html)