Ten years ago, cryptozoologist Jordi Magraner was scheduled to return to France in September 2002. But in the wake of 9/11, the world had changed in Pakistan.
Jordi Magraner (1967-2002)
Instead of finding his way home, Jordi Magraner, 35, the famous Spanish (specifically Catalonian) zoologist and cryptozoologist who had been conducting field research for 12 years on the barmanu (meaning “the big hairy one,” literally the Wildmen of northern Pakistan) was assassinated in Pakistan, perhaps as a spy, a probable victim of the international war against terrorists. He was killed (his throat was cut) on Friday, August 2, 2002, in his house in the north of Pakistan, along with his 12-year-old servant. A friend discovered the body and alerted the police and Magraner’s family.
Magraner had been on the track of Barmanu (pictured behind him above and elsewhere on this page) in northern Pakistan and Afghanistan, using strict scientific methods in his witness interviews. He was encouraged to undertake this adventure by the late Bernard Heuvelmans.
Magraner’s findings were intriguing and hopeful. For example, from 1992 through May 1994, during his trek to the Shishi Kuh valley in the Chitral region of Pakistan, his expedition investigated the Barmanu and found footprints. Jordi Magraner, Dr. Anne Mallasseand, and another associate, all Europeans, said they also had heard two series of unusual guttural sounds that could have been made by a primitive primate voicebox. They tracked down witnesses who claimed to have seen the badly smelling animal that made the sounds. According to the expedition leaders, eyewitnesses asked to choose among various images of mystery primates, most often selected pictures of the Minnesota Iceman to describe what they had seen.
Magraner, according to police, was found dead in a house he was renting in a village near the town of Bumburate in Chitral’s Kailash valley. The police said Magraner’s throat had been slit with a sharp weapon. His 12-year old servant, Wazir Ali Shah, was also found dead with his throat slit. Another domestic employee, Asif Ali, 20, an Afghan refugee had disappeared.
The zoologist Jordi Magraner, one police source said, was involved in some mysterious activities. Police disclosed his house was furnished with sophisticated communication equipment and nobody was allowed to go near his residential areas.
Fond of horses and different breeds of dogs, including some of the “violent species,” according to media reports at the time, police said that his dogs performed duty as night watchmen, but they had been drugged by the assailants before the killings. Magraner had “dubious links,” said Pakistani media, and due to this he may have had many foes and one of them might have killed him for his alleged activities, they speculated.
It is believed that Magraner frequently slipped across the border to Afghanistan using his horses. He had widely travelled and shortly before being killed had returned from a month-long journey to some undisclosed country, locals said. He was fluent in speaking Kalashi, Chitrali and Pashto languages and had rented a house for the last several years.
Kailash valley located at an elevation of 1,128 meters is a favorite of mountaineers, anglers, hunters, naturalists and anthropologists. The Kailash Kafir tribe known for wearing black robes is one of the attractions of the valley.