Maneater Goonch Cat Fish of Kali River


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Sep 3, 2009
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All three species of sympatric crocodile were dismissed; Saltwater crocodiles were not known to travel so far inland and the jaw structure of gharials prevents them from killing humans or buffalo. Mugger crocodiles, the most common Indian species, did not inhabit the cold, torrential waters of the Kali River. Also, crocodiles had never been seen on land to bask or breed. Although bull sharks were initially considered, an underwater investigation in the area where the buffalo disappeared by Marine biologist Rick Rosenthal yielded no sightings of bull sharks. Furthermore, Wade believed that bull sharks would not have lived so far upriver, and there had been no sightings of dorsal fins breaking the water's surface. However, during the underwater investigation, a meter long goonch catfish was sighted, which Wade unsuccessfully tried to capture. Later underwater investigations yielded numerous group sightings of goonch, six of which were man-sized.

After an unsuccessful attempt was made at capturing one with a fishing rod, a funeral pyre was set up in order to lure one in. A record breaking 6 ft goonch was captured the day after, and was weighed at 75.5 kg (166 lbs), 3 times heavier than an average goonch. Although Wade estimated that the fish was strong and large enough to eat a small child, he stated on interview that he believed that larger specimens were likely to exist, and that the specimen he captured was not large enough to be the alleged maneater, based on the sizes of the victims.

They reckon that a huge type of catfish, called a Goonch, may have developed a taste for flesh in an Indian river where bodies are dumped after funerals.

Locals have believed for years that a mysterious monster lurks in the water. But they think it has moved on from scavenging to snatching unwary bathers who venture into the Great Kali, which flows along the India-Nepal border.

Jeremy Wade - British Biologist
He said: “The locals have told me of a theory that this monster has grown extra large on a diet of partially burnt corpses. 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.”

Jeremy discounted theories that crocodiles could be responsible for the carnage before turning his attention to goonches - among the world’s biggest freshwater fish.

He caught one which tipped the scales at 161lb and was nearly 6ft long - a world record weight and far bigger than any landed before.

He said: “If that got hold of you, there’d be no getting away.

The Kali River goonch attacks were a series of fatal attacks on humans believed to be perpetrated by man-eating goonch catfish in three villages on the banks of the Kali River in India, between 1998 and 2007.

The first attack occurred in April 1998, when at 13:00, 17 year old Dil Bahada, whilst swimming in the river, was dragged underwater in front of his girlfriend and several eyewitnesses. No remains were found, even after a three day search spanning 5 kilometers. Three months later, at Dharma Ghat, a young boy was pulled underwater in front of his father. No corpse was ever found.

Nine years later, on April 2007 at Nagru Ghat, the attacks began again. 18 year old Atal Kumar, whilst swimming in deep water with his friend, was suddenly dragged underwater. During the attack, a villager named Surendra Bohra got a glimpse of the attacker, describing it as looking like an "elongated pig", and identifying it as a "soos". A search party undertaken by the entire village found no remains or clothing.

An 18-year-old Nepali disappeared in the river last year, dragged down by something described as like an “elongated pig”.

But the first victim of a goonch attack was thought to have been a 17-year-old Nepalese boy. He was killed in April 1988 as he cooled himself in the river. Witnesses said he was suddenly pulled below the surface. Three months later a young boy was dragged underwater as his father watched helplessly.

British biologist Jeremy Wade volunteered to capture the perpetrator. Though originally skeptical of the truth behind the attacks, he later became intrigued because the attacks only occurred in a specific area spanning 4-5 miles. He was told by the villagers that the creature likely developed a taste for human flesh and had grown large after eating half burnt human remains discarded from funeral pyres on the river banks. After examining the water where Bahada had disappeared with a depth sounder, Wade discounted the possibility of the boy having been dragged by a whirlpool, as the attacks all occurred in areas without turbulence. Later, a kilometer away, a Domestic water buffalo was reportedly dragged underwater by a strange animal whilst drinking in water only one meter deep. Wade theorized that the creature would have had to have weighed 200-300 lbs in order to do so.



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