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Mitla, Jeremy Mallinson

A drawing of the mitla prepared by Jeremy Mallinson during his search for the animal

Other names: Fawcett's cat-dog
Country reported: Bolivia

The mitla was a cryptid reported from the Rio Madidi area of the Bolivian Amazon by English explorer Percy Fawcett.[1][2][3]

Description

Fawcett described the mitla simply as "a black doglike cat about the size of a foxhound".[1]

Sightings

Undated

During one of his expeditions, Fawcett twice saw these animals:

"In the forests were various beasts still unfamiliar to zoologists, such as the mitla, which I have seen twice, a black doglike cat about the size of a foxhound."[1]

Ivan T. Sanderson also encountered them during an animal collecting trip, and attempted unsuccessfully to shoot one. He did manage to acquire a legless native skin, which he compared to "that of a huge black serval with pricked ears and tiny lynx-like tail. Regrettably, however, he did not mention what happened to this cryptozoologically priceless skin afterwards."[3]

1965

Jersey Zoo director Jeremy Mallinson made an unsuccesful search for the mitla in Bolivia in 1965. He wrote:[3]

"By the time we paddled our way across the confluence of the Abuna with the Madeira...I recognised that I had not thrown any further light on the question of whether Colonel Fawcett’s legendary animal had ever existed or not. Perhaps the mitla had been nothing more than a melanistic form of one of the several species of South American tiger cats or, as has been suggested, the black form of the jaguarundi which can grow to about the size of a foxhound and could, to a non-zoologist, appear to be half-dog, half-cat. Both Señor Carlos and Professor Gaston Bejarano had confirmed that the black form of the jaguarundi occasionally occurred in the north-eastern regions of Bolivia. However, I had learnt one important fact from my travels in this great integrated region of rivers and forests: that while these remoter areas of the Amazon basin still remain in existence, the forests could well harbour such animals as the mitla that are still strange to science, but it would only be by chance if their presence ever came to light."[4]

Theories

Mallinson wrote that it had been suggested the animal was simply a black form of the jaguarundi.[4] Roy P. Mackal favoured the bush dog,[2] although Karl Shuker pointed out that bush dogs are red (excepting juveniles) and have short limbs. Shuker favours the graceful, catlike short-eared dog, a rare canid native to the Amazon which was only recently confirmed to be present in Bolivia.[2][3]

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Fawcett, Brian & Fawcett, Percy (1953) Exploration Fawcett
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Eberhart, George (2002) Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Shuker, Karl (2012) Cats of Magic, Mythology and Mystery
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mallinson, Jeremy (1989) Travels in Search of Endangered Species