Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. Author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), and more recently Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), and Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery: A Feline Phantasmagoria (2012), his many fans have been badgering him to join the blogosphere for years. The CFZ Blog Network is proud to have finally persuaded him to do so.
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Sunday, 20 May 2012
SAT-KALAUK - A BURMESE BLOODSUCKER
I have been collecting animal-themed stamps ever since my mother and grandmother introduced me to this fascinating hobby when I was still a small child in the mid-1960s. One of the first sets that they bought for me was one from North Vietnam, issued in 1965, which featured a selection of six unusual Asian mammals, and included the very striking species featured above. I had never previously heard of it, but its exotic image on that stamp has remained in my mind ever since I first saw it all those years ago. Little did I know, however, that one day I'd be writing about this selfsame species, and that it would prove to be the identity of a very sinister-sounding beast of the East.
One of mythology's most famous bloodsucking monsters is the evil vampire cat of Japan, a feline ghoul that drains the blood of its sleeping victims at night. Less well known is that there is a real-life equivalent of sorts. This is the sat-kalauk or nabashing of Myanmar (formerly Burma) - a strange cat-like creature that allegedly leaps onto the necks of sambur deer and sucks their blood.
According to the Annual Report on Game Preservation in Burma for the year ending 31 March 1938, one such beast, fixed firmly onto the throat of a sambur, was spied by a villager in the forests below the Maymyo Hills, but no-one appeared certain of its identity. Not long afterwards, however, the mystery was solved, following the capture of a sat-kalauk in the Indawgyi Forests of Myitkyina, northeastern Myanmar. In 1954, its species was formally identified in a Burmese Forester article by U Tun Yin as a yellow-throated marten Martes flavigula. This is a very large, strikingly coloured relative of the European pine marten M. martes and the American fisher M. pennanti, and is known to prey upon young deer. It also happens to be the species that appears in the Vietnamese stamp opening this ShukerNature post. Another cryptozoological creature was cryptic no more.
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