KATHMANDU (AFP) — A team of Japanese adventurers say they have discovered footprints they believe were made by the legendary yeti said to roam the Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet.
"The footprints were about 20 centimetres (eight inches) long and looked like a human's," Yoshiteru Takahashi, the leader of the Yeti Project Nepal, told AFP in Kathmandu on Monday.
Takahashi was speaking after he returned with his seven-member team from their third attempt to track down the half-man-half-ape, tales of which have gripped the imaginations of Western adventurers and mountaineers for decades.
Despite spending 42 days on Dhaulagiri IV -- a 7,661-metre (25,135-foot) peak where they say they have seen traces of yetis in the past -- the team failed in their prime objective of capturing one on film.
But Takahashi said the footprints were proof enough.
"Myself and other team members have been coming to the Himalayas for years and we can recognise bear, deer, wolf and snow leopard prints and it was none of those," he said.
"We remain convinced it is real. The footprints and the stories the local tell make us sure that it is not imaginary," he added.
Photographs of the prints have been posted on the expedition's website, www.everest.co.jp/yeti2008/.
The team had set out nine motion-sensitive cameras in an area where Takahashi saw what he thought was a yeti during a previous expedition in 2003.
"It was about 200 metres away in silhouette. It was walking on two legs like a human and looked about 150 centimetres tall," said Takahashi.
Despite their lack of success this time, the team plans to continue the quest.
"We will come back as soon as we can, and we will keep coming back until we get the yeti on film," said Takahashi.
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