Yeti 'proof' could spark wildlife expeditions 

Researchers 'certainty' over fresh evidence could create new backpacker trail

Rwanda has mountain gorillas, China has snow leopards and Indonesia has the Komodo dragon. Now, if scientists are to be believed, Russia has Yetis.

This week the Huffington Post reported that some US and European scientists were '95 percent sure' that the Yeti does exist, and lives in the Kemerovo region of Siberia. 

It was reported that researchers had found "footprints, a probable den and various markers that Yetis mark their territory with." 

For decades evidence has been put forward to shed light on the existence of the Yeti, a mythological and primal creature often described in literature and from alleged eye-witnesses as tall, hairy and similar to ancient Neanderthals in appearance.

One of the key figures behind the newest claim on the existence of Yetis is Loren Coleman, a crytozoologist from Portland, Maine in the United States. Cryptozoologists study the alleged existence of unknown animals, and Coleman, author of The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates, is confident that the latest findings support his theory of 'Siberian Snowmen'. 

Understandably, skeptics have criticised the new research, and suggested that without documentary confirmation footprints and dens were little better than anecdotal evidence.

It has also been pointed out that Coleman is due to re-open his Maine-based International Cryptozoology Museum at the end of October, and that the timely release of such evidence could simply be a publicity stunt.

Some commentators have even suggested that the whole news story is merely an exercise designed to boost tourism.

The consensus of the wider scientific community has been to refute the claim and recommend caution, however it is likely there will be some travellers willing to believe the story. Gap year backpackers often blow their budget on seeing rare and exotic wildlife, and now Russia could benefit from belonging to a select group of countries offering sightings of uncommon animal species.

The Siberian region could see a hike in visitors if recent publicity connects to the worldwide audience of adventurous gap year travellers. Visas to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda can cost hundreds of pounds for just a few hours in the jungle, so whilst guides in Siberia may not be able to guarantee such up-close encounters, the increase in backpackers could give the Russian tourism economy a healthy boost. 

Photo taken by Wayne Parrack (via Creative Commons)