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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

More on Burus, Druks and such

Illustration of the Buru by Neave Parker of the British Museum of Natural History.

Online Encyclopedia definition for Buru (evidently quoting the Wikipedia)

Buru (cryptozoology)

The Buru was an aquatic reptile said to have lived in Jiro (also spelled and pronounced as Ziro) valley, a small town in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, India, at some undefined time in the past. In 1947, Professor Christopher von Furer-Haimendorf was the first westerner to be told about the Buru. By that time, the animals had reportedly already become extinct in the valley.
According to the Apatani elders, when their forefathers migrated to Jiro valley, the valley was primarily a marsh which was populated by Burus. The Apatani people decided to settle in the valley because of its fertility and good climate. But every now and then they would have confrontations with burus. So they decided to drain the marsh of its water and thus eliminate the Burus. Most of the Burus died because of the drainage, and many supposedly went underground into the springs.
The last Buru was said to be reported by a young woman, who sighted it in a spring one night while she was drawing water. The startled lady told her father about the incident. The next day the whole village helped fill the spring with stones and clay.


Traditionally, there has been speculation that the Buru was an unidentified member of the order crocodilia. Tellingly, crocodiles or alligators are also called "Buru" by the Apatanis. There is large population of crocodiles which live in caves in North Africa, quite far from open water, so an underground existence is not improbable for persecuted Indian crocodiles.
The mere fact that crocodilians are called "Buru" may not however be very significant, since the Buru is described with monitor-like characteristics such as an elongated neck and a forked tongue. The native name of the Komodo dragon is "Land Crocodile". Both Bernard Heuvelmans.[1] and Roy Mackal regard the Buru to be a large Komodo dragon-like monitor lizard, and there are fossils of such a creature to be found in the Indian subcontinent. Heuvelmans notes similar reported creatures from Western India under the name of "jhoors" where they seem to merge into the Iranian traditional dragon or ahi (Azi Dahaka), which in Iranian art is basically a local stylistic adaptation of the Chinese dragon. George Eberhart notes rumors of a similar creature in the Tigris marshes of Iraq, called the afa, possibly the same thing as ahi. Heuvelmans also notes in his checklist of unknown animals that similar reports to the buru also come from Burma, and they might also relate to a reported lizardlike Meikong River monster.
Cryptozoologist Karl Shuker claims that the Buru was a giant lungfish stating that this provides a far more comprehensive, comparable match not only in terms of morphology but also with regard to behaviour. Shuker believes this explains the Buru's alleged ability to survive hidden at the bottom of lakes during the dry season.[2] Shuker's view admittedly does nothing to account for the various other buru-like creatures as cited in this article. It also does not account for the specified features of the long neck and forked tongue.


  1. Heuvelmans,Bernard "Annotated Checklist of Apparently Unknown Animals with which Cryptozoology is Concerned," CRYPTOZOOLOGY, Vol 5, 1986, P.1, ISSN 0736-7023
The Dragon of Persia, from a copy of the Falnama
Note that  accompanied by a Wonderbird evidently equated to the dragon
 and possibly representing  a Firebird from Russia and Central Asia

Heuvelmans in his Checklist entry on the Buru specified it was identical to the dragon represented on the flag of Buthan. This dragon is known as the Druk.(most likely linguistically related to Dragon)

From the Wikipedia:The Druk (Dzongkha: འབྲུག་) is the "Thunder Dragon" of Bhutanese mythology and a Bhutanese national symbol. A druk appears on the Bhutanese Flag, holding jewels to represent wealth. In the Dzongkha language, Bhutan is called Druk Yul, or Land of Druk, and Bhutanese leaders are called Druk Gyalpo, Dragon Kings. During the Bhutanese mock election in 2007, all four mock parties were called the Druk colour Party[1]. The national anthem of Bhutan, Druk tsendhen, translates into English as "The Kingdom of Druk".

Similar lake monster reports come from the Brahmaputra drainage over the border into Tibet.

The Buru as represented by "Wolf's Den" for the Cryptid Fieldbook

I had formerly reposted my opinions about the Buru on this blog in the article

I did just find a link to this while googling:

Heuvelmans Checklist of Apparantly Unknown Animals, CRYPTOZOOLOGY, vol. 5, 1986, p. 20

"Amphibious animals, probably huge monitor lizards, some up to 20 feet in length-- and thus larger than the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis)-- currently reported in India and neighboring countries. In the Gir area (Kathiawar Penninsula), where they are called jhoor, they are largely mythicized, but they have been fairly well observed in the Sundabarans (mouths of the Ganges), where, strangely enough, they live in symbiosis with the Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)
In Assam, where they are known as the Buru to the Apa Thanis,seem to have been exterminated in modern times (Izzard 1951, Mackal 1980), in Buthan, however, some have been sin one of the Northern lakes and once even by the king himself (referring to an issue of National Geographic but not cited by Heuvelmans) they have also been reported in Burma (as the Bu-Rin, again not cirted by Heuvelmans directly). There is even a historical reference extantof their existance in Sumatra in the 16th Century (Heuvelmans 1965)"

What is stiking to me at this point is the large size, up to 20 feet long, and the part about the symbiosis with C. porosus. Both of those things are in contrast with the Buru on the one hand and the other purported giany monitors on the other.

At this point in time, what I propose now is this:

There is a true Crocodile monitor seen in New Guinea often confused with the Tree crocodile monitor but at approximately double the length. It is amphibious, at home on land and in the water, and can tolerate both saltwater and freshwater. It has evolved some sort of a symbiosis with C. porosus. It therefore (my inference) is possibly found throughout the same range as C. porosus. (This is the "Aha!" part) Therefore the larger creature found at the Sundabarans, in the Andaman Islands and down to Sumatra, and in other places, is the same as the Guanjan or snake-crocodile in New Guinea and Melanesia and the Ngarara of Fiji-to-New Zealand, probably in its occasional and not its regular range. It is not the Buru, it is much longer and especially has a much longer tail. It possibly ranged as far as the Persian Gulf at one time, as C. porosus seems to have done.

It s still my feeling that the Buru is another giant monitor and especially since its description and measurements match exactly those given for "Dragons" in Burma, the Meikong and Southern China (probably as far as Taiwan, but the ones in the Phillipines seem to match the ones in New Zealand instead. More information on this score would be very helpful!)

At present, officially the Sea-crocodile lizard has been assumed to be the same as the New Guinean Tree-crocodile lizard or Atrellia. Provisionally, the species could be referred to as Varanus cf-salvadorii. Hopefully, somebody with access to museum specimens might be able to come up with already-collected specimens. The length of 20 feet at least matches Roman-era reports of Dragons in India.

Hope this helps. Best Wishes, Dale D.

The following two photos of Komodo dragons were used to illutrate different internet articles on these South-Asian dragons, including reports from Southern China.  While they are are not in themselves authoritative representations of such creatures directly, they do indicate what people think they are talking about. These creatures are always generally given the same size and body shape with four legs, usually stating ith separate clawed digits, a long tail and a scaly fat body with a distinct longer neck to the front of it. The fact that most of the descriptions match as far as body shape goes is significant: Exceptions contrary to the general run of the reports are recorded for Burus but are noted to come from an interview with a single esteemed member of society but unfortunately somebody with whom there was a very difficult language barrier. This same individual stated that the teeth were like a wild boar's teeth, the young were born in wayter, and that the legs were like "Flanges" on the side of the body. ALL of these statements must be viewed with suspicion and this was noted in Izzard's initial reports.

Unknown LIZARD of the Middle East.
Etymology: Madan (Marsh Arab) word.
Physical description: Large lizard.
Distribution: Marshes at the mouth of the
Tigris River, Iraq.
Possible explanation: An undescribed species
of Monitor lizard (Family Varanidae), large car-
nivorous reptiles that live in tropical areas.
Source: Wilfred Thesiger, The Marsh Arabs
(New York: Dutton, 1964), p. 115.
Unknown Lizard of Central Asia.
Etymology: Apatani and Nisi (Sino-Tibetan)
word, possibly from its call.
Physical  description:  Roundish,  elongated
body. Length, 11–14 feet. Mottled blue-black
above.  Broad  white  band  on  the  underside.
Head, 20 inches. One account gives it three
plates on the head, one on the top and on each
side. Eyes are close behind a flat-tipped snout.
Flat  teeth,  except  for  a  single  pair  of  large,
pointed teeth in both the upper and lower jaws.
Forked  tongue.  Neck,  3  feet. Three  lines  of
short spines run down its back and sides. Back,
18 inches wide. One account said it has legs 20
inches long with clawed feet, while another only
gave it paired lateral flanges. Round, tapering
tail 3–5 feet long and fringed at the base.
Behavior: Completely aquatic. Raises its head
out of the water occasionally. Basks in the sun
on the bank in the summer. Remains in the
mud when the swamps dry up. Makes a hoarse,
bellowing noise. Does not eat fishes. Young are
born alive in the water. Can grab a man with its
tail and drag him underwater.
Distribution:Swamps and lakes near Ziro in the
Apatani Valley, Arunachal Pradesh Union Terri-
tory, India; 50 miles to the southwest in the Dafla
hills, Arunachal Pradesh Union Territory, India.
Significant sightings:In 1945 and 1946, James
Phillip Mills and Charles Stonor collected de-
scriptions of the Buru from the Apatani people,
who are said to have killed the last of them in
their area when they were draining swamps for
rice cultivation.
In 1948, Ralph Izzard and Charles Stonor vis-
ited a swamp in the Dafla hills near Chemgeng in
the hopes of finding a living Buru but returned
with conflicting stories from the Nisi people.
Present status: It may still be possible to find
skeletal remains of the animals in the Apatani
Valley, since the precise kill spots are still known.
Possible explanations:
(1) A surviving dinosaur of some type, sug-
gested by Ralph Izzard.
(2) An unknown species of Monitor lizard
(Varanus sp.), suggested by Roy Mackal.
(3) An unknown species of Crocodile (Order
Crocodylia), suggested by Tim Dinsdale.
(4) A large, swamp-dwelling Lungfish
(Order Lepidosireniformes) would explain
the Buru’s ability to keep submerged in
mud, according to Karl Shuker. The body
structure also matches a lungfish more than
a reptile. Its bellow might be caused by its
ventilating air.
(5) An unknown species of Bonytongue fish
similar to the Pirarucu (Arapaima gigas) of
South America, which also has an air blad-
der fashioned into a lung.
Sources: Christopher von Fürer-Haimendorf,
“The Valley of the Unknown,” Illustrated
London News 121 (November 8, 1947):
526–530; Ralph Izzard,The Hunt for the Buru
(London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1951);
Desmond Doig, “Bhutan,” National
Geographic 120 (September 1961): 384,
391–392; Tim Dinsdale,The Leviathans
(London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966),
pp. 105–110; Roy P. Mackal, Searching for
Hidden Animals (Garden City, N.Y.:
Doubleday, 1980), pp. 79–98; Karl Shuker,
Extraordinary Animals Worldwide (London:
Robert Hale, 1991), pp. 54–61. [Karl Shuker's assertions that the estivation indicates a lungfish better than a crocodile or lizard is incorrect: both crocodiles and lizards are known to hibernate in the winter and estivate in the summer, and the lungfishes most like his model for the Buru live in permanent pools so they do not estivate. Furthermotre his assertion that a lungfish fits the description of the body shape better is simply false. The described body shape specifies a long flexible neck which the lungfish would never have.-DD]
Giant Snake of Southeast Asia.
Physical description: Length, 40–50 feet.
Behavior: Aquatic. Aggressive. Attacks swim-
mers and small boats.
Distribution: Near Putao, Myanmar.
Source: Alan Rabinowitz, Beyond the Last
Village: A Journey of Discovery in Asia’s
Forbidden Wilderness (Washington, D.C.:
Island Press, 2001), p. 116.

Lake and River Monster Sightings

Jigme Dorji National Park, lake in. Former king
Jigme Dorji Wangchuck saw a white, fast-swim-
ming  animal  in  a  lake  in  this  park.  Desmond
Doig, “Bhutan,” National Geographic 120 (Sep-
tember 1961): 384, 391–392.
Lake Changhai [Long Lake], Sichuan Province.
A Chinese scientist saw a 10-foot “miracle animal”
with a horse’s head and a huge body on October
12, 1984. Janet and Colin Bord,Unexplained Mys-
teries of the 20th Century (Chicago: Contemporary
Books, 1989), p. 355; UNEP-WCMC, Protected
Areas  Programme,
 Jianzhuhai  Lake,  Sichuan  Province.  UNEP-
WCMC,  Protected  Areas  Programme,
Nuorilang  Lakes,  Sichuan  Province.  UNEP-
WCMC,  Protected  Areas  Programme,
 Wuhan, lake near, Hubei Province. In 1987, a
group of biologists led by Chen Mok Chun re-
ported seeing three large, grayish-white, toadlike an-
imals with mouths 6 feet wide and huge eyes swim-
ming toward them. One of the creatures extended
an  enormous  tongue  that  grabbed  their  tripod-
mounted  cameras.  Karl  Shuker,  “Lesser-Known
Lake Monsters,” Fate43 (September 1990): 75–86.
[This is badly exaggerated but the creatures are short-snouted crocodilelike animals with protrusable tongues. The descriptions match a type of giant monitor lizard better than anything else. The sizes are badly exaggerated but only the width of the mouth is specifically given a measure-DD]
Tasek Bera, Pahang State.
Tasek Chini, Pahang State. Snakelike or long-
necked monsters, born at the top of the Gunong
Chini  Mountain,  are  said  to  guard  an  ancient
Khmer city submerged in the lake. Phyllis Ben-
jamin, “Making Waves in the Cryptozoo,” INFO
Journal, no. 57 (July 1989): 29; Harold Stephens,
Return  to  Adventure  Southeast  Asia (Miranda,
Calif.: Wolfenden, 2000), pp. 11, 14.
Lake Wenbu [also Wembo or Menbu]. In June
1980, farmers and party officials saw an animal
with a long neck and big head. It was held respon-
sible for the disappearance of a yak and a villager
who had been rowing in the lake. Karl Shuker,
 “Lesser-Known Lake Monsters,” Fate 43 (September 1990): 75–86.
Mekong  River.  Lizardlike Water Monster
Mottled green, brown, and yellow. Length, 15
feet. PURSUIT articles quoting: Peter R. Kann,
“Vietnam Journey,” Wall Street Journal, Novem-
ber 10, 1969, p. 1; Wall Street Journal, October
21,  1992;  “Making  for  the  Mekong,”  Fortean

Lake Patenggang, southwest of Bandung, Java.
Giant fish, turtle, or reptile 18 feet long. Times
(London), February 7, 1977; Karl Shuker, “Lesser-
Known  Lake  Monsters,”  Fate 43  (September
1990): 75–86.
 Definitions are from Eberhart, George, Mysterious Creatures, 2002

1 comment:

  1. Well, i just bought ralph izzards book, and while i disagree with some parts, its a good read.

    Best wishes,

    Noah Eckenrode.

    Amateur Cryptozoologist


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