There have been many tales about living Mammoths. This is in part due I am sure to the fact that some frozen specimens found look as if they died recently as they are so fresh. With scientists talking about regenerating a mammoth clone ala
In 1873 an article appeared in the Zoologist containing an interview with Cheriton Batchmatchnik, a Russian convict who escaped from Siberia who claimed to have encountered living Mammoths in a valley of the
A Russian hunter claimed to have seen a pair of mammoths in 1918. This story was recorded by M. L. Gallon, the man in charge of the French Consulate in
"In the second year I was exploring the taiga, I was very much struck to notice the tracks of a huge animal, I say huge tracks, for they were a long way larger than any of those I had often seen of animals I knew well. It was autumn. There had been a few big snowstorms, followed by heavy rain. It wasn't freezing yet, the snow had melted, and there were thick layers of mud in the clearings.. It was in one of these big clearings, partly taken up by a lake, that I was staggered to see huge footprints pressed deep into the mud. It must have been 70 cm across the widest part and 50 cm the other way, so the spoor wasn't round but oval.. There were four tracks, the tracks of four feet, the first two about 4 m from the second pair, which were a little bigger in size. Then the tracks suddenly turned east and went into the forest of middling-sized elms. Were it went I saw a huge heap of dung; I had a good look at it and saw it was made up of vegetable matter.Some 10 feet up, just where the animal had gone into the forest, I saw a sort of row of broken branches, made, I don't doubt, by the monster's enormous head as it forced it's way into the place it had decided to go, regardless of what was in its path. I followed the track for days and days. Sometimes I could see were the animal had stopped at some grassy clearing and then gone on forever eastwards. Then, one day I saw another track, almost exactly the same. It came from the north and crossed the first one. It looked to me as if they had trampled about all over the place for several hundred m as if they had been excited or upset by their meeting. Then the two animals set out marching eastward one following some 20 m behind the other, both tracks mingling and plowing up the earth together. I followed them for days and days thinking that perhaps I should never see them, and also a bit afraid, for indeed I didn't feel I was big enough to face such beasts alone. One afternoon it was clear enough from the tracks that the animals weren't far off. The wind was in my face, which was good for approaching them without them knowing I was there. All of a sudden I saw one of the animals quite clearly, and now I must admit I really was afraid. It had stopped among some young saplings. It was a huge elephant with big white tusks, very curved; it was a dark chestnut colour as far as I could see.. It had fairly long hair on the hindquarters but it seemed much shorter on the front. I must say I had no idea that there were such big elephants. It had huge legs and moved very slowly. I've only seen elephants in pictures, but I must say that even from this distance (we were 3000 m apart) I could never have believed any beast could be so big. The second beast was around, I saw it only a few times among the trees: it seemed to be the same size.
It sounds like a fantastic tale. Heuvelmans suggested a couple of reasons why the story sounded so fantastic. a) the hunter got caught up in his tale and added some details which are an exaggeration , but these don't effect the basic veracity of the account b) Gallon inadvertently added details in his recording of the account., especially if it was a story for publication. (Plus the story being retold many years apart would suffer from the Chinese Whispers effect and get distorted over time and of course it may not be true. )
Tukeman's story began in the untamed wilds of
“When the following summer melted the ice and snow they were on their way.The trip was arduous but Paul and Tukeman soon found signs they were on the right track. They found a cave "paved" with the numerous remains of mammoths. Surely there would living ones nearby, and the bones provided Tukeman the chance to test the strength of the firearms he had brought for the hunt..On August 29th the hunters finally found their prey, yet they did not immediately try to gun it down. Joe had said that the mammoth he say followed the smoke from the gun his son had fired. Perhaps, Tukeman reasoned, mammoths were attracted to the smoke so that they could stomp out any forest fires before they really got going. “
“When the trap was set in the autumn the mammoth was drawn by the smoke and tried to stamp it out. Everything was going as planned. Paul and Tukeman did not waste their chance. They fired, over and over again, until blood oozed out of scores of bullet wounds in the animal's flesh. The Tee-Kai-Koa was dead. Paul and Tukeman skinned their prize and collected its bones, but by that time winter was setting in. They would not be able to leave until the following spring. Tukeman had hoped that the remains would be purchased by a great museum in Europe or America but Conradi, the man who put a gag order on Tukeman until 1899, offered a much larger sum than Tukeman could otherwise hope for. The plan was for Tukeman to stay silent while Conradi presented the mammoth as a discovery he had made himself.
Ever since the appearance of that number of the magazine the authorities of the Smithsonian Institution, in which the author [F.A. Lucas] had located the remains of the beast of his fancy, have been beset with visitors to see the stuffed mammoth, and our daily mail, as well as that of the Smithsonian Institution, has been filled with inquiries for more information and for requests to settle wagers as to whether it was a true story or not.
Tukeman's story was a work of fiction.
However articles continued to appear:
Heuvelmans, Bernard (1959). On the Track of Unknown Animals.
Newman, Edward. 1873. The Mammoth Still in the Land of the Living. Zoologist (
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