Monday, February 27, 2006

Johor bans foreigners from hunting ape man

The southern Malaysian state of Johor has threatened to jail foreigners who venture into its jungles looking for a legendary ape man, dubbed 'Big Foot'.

The state's Forestry Department says Big Foot enthusiasts found on its land without a permit will face up to three years jail or a fine of up to $2,500.

The hunt for Big Foot has gripped Malaysia after a spate of sightings.

Now authorities are determined that if the ape man exists, Malaysians will be the first to find him.

Malaysians are being invited to pay just over $1 for a permit to roam around Johor state's forest reserves, where most of the reported sightings have taken place.

The state also plans to sponsor a scientific expedition, and although Malaysia has few primate specialists, foreigners will again not be invited.

Local tourism industry leaders told the BBC the ban on non-Malaysians entering forest reserves was daft and should be rethought.

The country hopes to lure 20 million foreign visitors next year and its main attractions are its beaches and its jungles.

Tourism bosses say the move will simply confuse and possibly drive away just the people they want to attract.

Story here.

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