Encyclopaedia of Cryptozoology
Category Cryptolizard
Proposed scientific names
Other names
Country reported Bangladesh, India
First reported 1920
Prominent investigators Tony Gerard
• Rupali Ghosh

The jhoor is a cryptid lizard reported from India, connected with the buru and bu-rin, as well as other giant monitors from Bhutan and Indonesia. The term jhoor specifically refers to the giant aquatic lizards of the Kathiawar Peninsula's Gir Forest,[1][2] but has also been applied by cryptozoologists to similar cryptids reported from the Sundarbans, on the opposite side of the subcontinent.[3][4]


E. B. Fox was given a description of the jhoor in 1920, by Gir Forest locals who firmly believed in its existence.[5] While working on MonsterQuest, Tony Gerard received more modern information on the Gir Forest jhoor from Indian herpetologist Romulus Whittaker, who had been told by local people in 1975 that the jhoor existed, and that it was not a crocodile.[2]

Similar animals are "fairly well-observed" in the Sundarbans, where they supposedly grow up to 20' in length and live symbiotically with saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus).[1][4] In 2000, naturalists from Bangladesh, which owns part of the Sundarbans, reported that giant lizards had been seen in the marshes of that country, "about a dozen ... scrambling for food." They were described as larger than crocodiles, more than seven metres in length, and local villagers had taken to feeding them the entrails of pigs.[6]


According to several people interviewed by Fox, the jhoor has a turtle-like body, a long neck, and four long and flexible legs or tentacles, which it uses to drown its prey. It lives in deep rocky pools in riverbeds, and is said to never leave the water, although three of Fox's informants claimed to have seen a jhoor for themselves. They claimed that jhoors killed large buffalos, pulling them into the water, leaving only skin and bones after extracting all the flesh and blood.[5]

According to interviews carried out by Rupali Ghosh in 2009, the jhoor has an elongated, turtle-like body with a hard dorsal surface, and long legs armed with strong claws. These modern reports reiterate the jhoor's habit of preying on buffalo and cattle, and more rarely deer, and place the cryptid in the Hiran River and its embankment dams.[2]

Physical evidence[]


In 1987, forest officials in Andra Pradesh allegedly encountered an 18' long reptile in a dense forest near Tirupati. A photographer from the University of Tirupati's Zoology Department photographed the animal.[7]


A number of Gir Forest locals have claimed to have seen jhoors, beginning with three informants of E. B. Fox in 1920.[5] According to a man named Ismailbhai interviewed by Ghosh in 2009, in 1965 or 1966, during a drought, a jhoor was reported to have killed a calf near the Kamleshwar Dam, leaving only skin and bones. Local people threw stones and the nearby water until a jhoor emerged. Another, older man named Kimbhai claimed to have seen jhoors kill nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) as well as cattle, in the Hiran River and the Kamleshwar Dam. A third eyewitness, Lalbhai, claimed to have seen jhoors twice, in Kameleshwar Dam and in the river near Gidharia. All the eyewitnesses thought that jhoors might still be caught in the embankment dams.[2]


In 1925, big game hunter Major Hugh R. E. Rudkin wrote to the Morning Post to describe an observation of giant, lizard-like animals he had made in the Sundarbans some two decades previously, in 1901. On a hunt during a heatwave, Rudkin had been stalking a tiger through dense bush, and decided to set up near a wild pig killed by the tiger, in the hopes that the predator would return for the carcass.[8]

I had been there for about an hour when out of a watercourse a strange-looking animal appeared. The creature was about ten feet long and had a body very like a crocodile, but instead of the ordinary crocodile head it had one about the size and shape of a Rugby football, though rather flatter, with a comparatively slender neck of about two feet long. It made straight for the dead pig and started eating it. Shortly after another appeared, and soon there were at least a dozen round the carcase. They varied in length from twelve to five or six feet, and all had the same shaped heads, which they constantly raised on their long necks as the quarrelled with each other over their meal.

Rudkin fruitlessly tried to scare the animals off by throwing lumps of mud at them, but did not wish to fire, fearing that his gun's report would scare the tiger away from the area. He therefore allowed them to devour the pig and disappear. Rudkin did not consider the reptiles more valuable trophies than the tiger, because, although he had never seen such animals before, he assumed they were well-known to naturalists. However, he soon found that the reptiles were apparently unknown to science; only one man he spoke to, a fellow big game hunter, claimed to have seen something similar, in the jungles of Assam.[8]


Since 1920, it has been theorised that the jhoor is a myth inspired by mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) attacks, which were common in the Gir Forest.[5] When Romulus Whittaker put a mugger identity to Gir locals, they were emphatic that it was real, and not a crocodile, which are very common in the Kamleshwar Dam. Whittaker feels that the jhoor cannot be an unknown species, because the water levels of the embankment dams in which it supposedly lives sometimes fall dramatically.[2] Bernard Heuvelmans listed the jhoor as a possible giant aquatic monitor lizard, like the buru, bu-rin, and other cryptids from India, Bhutan, and Indonesia. Heuvelmans felt that they were largely mythologised in Gir.[1]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Heuvelmans, Bernard "Annotated Checklist of Apparently Unknown Animals With Which Cryptozoology Is Concerned", Cryptozoology, No. 5 (1986)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Gerard, Tony "Notes on the Jhoor of Gir," BioFortean Notes, Vol. 7 (2020)
  3. Eberhart, George M. (2002) Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, ABC-CLIO, Inc., ISBN 1576072835
  4. 4.0 4.1 Coleman, Loren & Huyghe, Patrick (2003) The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep, TarcherPerigree, ISBN 978-1585422524
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Fox, E. B. "The Mysterious 'Jhoor'," Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, Vol. 27 (1920) — Online
  6. Sundberg, Jan (2005) "Scientists From Bangladesh Claim That Giant Prehistoric Lizard Has Been Found in Their Country," GUST: Global Underwater Search TeamWayback Machine
  7. "Behemoth," BILK Newsletter No. 13 (March 1987)
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Freak Crocodiles: Strange Story of the Sunderbunds," The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (19 October 1925)