Encyclopaedia of Cryptozoology
Beruang rambai
Category Cryptohominid
Proposed scientific names
Other names Bali djakai, bruan rambei
Country reported Indonesia (Borneo), Malaysia (Borneo)
First reported 1902[1]
Prominent investigators Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy, 5th Earl of Cranbrook
Odette Tchernine

The beruang rambai (Dayak: "long-haired bear"[2]) was a cryptohominid or cryptid bear reported from the Indonesian-Malaysian island of Borneo. A sighting of a cryptohominid called the bali djakai has been assigned to the beruang rambai.[3]


Odoardo Beccari wrote in 1904 that the Dayaks of Borneo recognised three varieties of bear, including the ordinary sun bear (Helarctos malayanus), and the bruan rambei, a rarer variety with long fur, no white mark on its chest, and reddish hair on the sides of its face.[1]

Around 1962, naturalist and cryptozoologist Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy, 5th Earl of Cranbrook, then Lord Medway, received information on the beruang rambai, which he shared with Odette Tchernine, from Betong anak Kasa of Sarawak. It was reported to inhabit the Kelingkang Range. Cranbrook and Tchernine regarded it as a yeti or gorilla-like creature.[2] Beruang rambais, described explicitly as ferocious or demonic "hairy bears," also appear in Bornean folk stories.[4]


Beruang is an Indonesian and Malay term for bears.[5] In several languages of Indonesia and Malaysia, including Dayak and Iban, rambai or rambei refers to long hair, particularly hanging or flowing locks.[6][7] According to naturalist Odoardo Beccari, it was often used as a suffix to distinguish particularly hairy animals.[1] Tchernine believed that the root ram possibly referred to head hair, although Betong anak Kasa said that the beruang rambai's name referred to the hair on its limbs.[2]


The beruang rambai was reported to stand 4 ft (1 m 20 cm) high on all fours and 6 ft (1 m 80 cm) on its hind legs, although Betong anak Kasa, who gave this information, also claimed that "[i]t cannot walk upright like a man." It was covered in long hair, black and dry like the fibres of the arenga palm (Arenga engleri), which supposedly grew to about 3 ft (90 cm) long on its arms and thighs.[2]


Betong anak Kasa knew of two beruang rambai witnesses, Banau and Penyai, both of whom were dead by 1962. They had allegedly seen the animal in 1941, at a place known as "Lost Hill," and had tried to shoot it.[2]

In his book A Wanderer Till I Die (1937), explorer Leonard Clark claimed he had seen an ape-like creature at a watering hole in the mountains of Borneo. George Eberhart assigns this sighting to the beruang rambai.[3] Clark described it as a very hairy and disproportionately-built biped, with "inadequately short" and thick legs, bulging shoulders and a bull neck, and a head which "rose to a peak like a pistol bullet." According to Clark, "[b]eyond all doubt, it was a species of great ape." He had previously heard that a monster called the bali djakai was believed to exist in the mountains.[8]


Eberhart writes that the sun bear, the only known bear species in Borneo, is an "obvious candidate," but its hair is uniformly short.[3] According to IUCN biologist Jeffrey McNeely, the Earl of Cranbrook doubted that the beruang rambai was a Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) or a sun bear, but would not speculate beyond suggesting that it was "probably a relict species of something."[9] Gregory Forth argues that the beruang rambai is similar to the mayas rambei, an orangutan "form" distinguished by its long hair and lack of flanges.[10][1] According to Forth, this "long hair" may refer to the flowing head mane of the batutut and orang-pendek, but is equally as likely to refer to the long hair of an ordinary orangutan.[11] Beccari once shot a medium-sized orangutan with very long hair, which the Dayaks told him was a mayas rambei, but he ultimately dismissed this.[1]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Beccari, Odoardo (1904) Wanderings in the Great Forests of Borneo
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Tchernine, Odette (1970) The Yeti, Neville Spearman
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Eberhart, George M. (2002) Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, ABC-CLIO, Inc., ISBN 1576072835
  4. Effendy, Chairil et. al. (1993) Nilai Budaya Dalam Sastra Nusantara di Kalimantan Barat
  5. Sutlive, Joanne (2001) The Encyclopedia of Iban Studies
  6. Rigg, Jonathan (1862) A Dictionary of the Sunda Language of Java
  7. Echols, John M. (1989) An Indonesian-English Dictionary
  8. Clark, Leonard (1937) A Wanderer Till I Die
  9. McNeely, Jeffrey A. & Wachtel, Paul Spencer (1988) Soul of the Tiger
  10. Brooke, James "Letter," Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, Vol. 9 (July 1841)
  11. Forth, Gregory (2008) Images of the Wildman in Southeast Asia: An Anthropological Perspective, Routledge, ISBN 9781135784294