The veo was a cryptid reported from the Indonesian island of Rinca↗, one of the Lesser Sunda Islands. It is described as a large animal comparable to a gigantic pangolin, and some cryptozoologists identify it with the Pleistocene pangolin Manis palaeojavanica.
The veo was first described by the French naturalist Pierre Pfeffer↗ (1927 – 2016), who took part in a 1956 animal collecting expedition to Borneo and the islands of Komodo National Park, including Rinca. In his narrative of the expedition, Bivouacs à Borneo (1963), Pfeffer wrote that an elderly Rinca hunter, who claimed to have once seen a veo, described the animal to him in detail. Although Pfeffer was sceptical, he intended to bag a specimen if he came across one, which he never did.
When a translation of Pfeffer's account was sent to Czech cryptozoologist Jaroslav Mareš during the 1990s, he made enquiries through an Indonesian friend, and found that the veo was still spoken of on Rinca; Mareš' description differed little from that of Pfeffer. As of 1998, one of Mareš' colleagues was planning an expedition to Rinca in search of the veo.
The veo is allegedly a very large animal, around the size of a horse, or at least 10 ft (3 m) long, with a lengthy head. Its back is covered in scales, which overlap one another like roofing tiles, but its underside, head, throat, and tail-tip are unarmoured and hairy. Its feet are armed with very large claws, and, when threatened, it will rear up onto its hind legs and use these claws for slashing. A nocturnal aniimal, it is said to remain in the highlands during the day, but comes down to the coastal mangrove forests at nightfall to feed on crabs, shellfish, and other small marine organisms washed up by the sea. However, according to Mareš, its diet mainly consists of termites and ants. Its call, sometimes heard at dusk, is rendered "hoo-hoo-hoo".
Pfeffer's local informant claimed that he had once seen a veo at an unstated date in the past, in company with a policeman from Labuanbadja on Flores. The men allegedly encountered it while hunting during the night in the vicinity of Loho Buaji, and were so afraid that they threw themselves onto the ground and remained still, watching the animal until it moved off.
Pfeffer intially suggested to his informant that the veo was a dugong (Dugong dugon), a theory described as "bizarre" by Karl Shuker, in light of the dugong's entirely different appearance and habits. However, Pfeffer eventually came to believe that the veo was a traditional memory of the armoured horses ridden by early Portuguese explorers. Mareš originally assumed that Pfeffer's description referred to the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), which is found on Rinca, but which is locally distinguished from the veo. Shuker notes that both descriptions of the veo are strongly suggestive of an enormous pangolin, even the largest modern species of which do not approach the size of the veo. However, Mareš pointed to the existence of a similarly-sized giant pangolin, Manis palaeojavanica, in the Greater Sunda Islands of Borneo and Java during the Pleistocene. He suggested that M. palaeojavanica, or an even larger relative, could also have existed on the Lesser Sunda Islands, including Rinca, and that some could have survived into the present.
Notes and references
- Eberhart, George M. (2002) Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, ABC-CLIO, Inc., ISBN 1576072835
- Pfeffer, Pierre (1963) Bivouacs à Borneo
- Shuker, Karl P. N. (2016) Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors: The Creatures That Time Forgot?, Coachwhip Publications, ISBN 978-1616463908
- Shuker, Karl P. N. "A Supplement to Dr Bernard Heuvelmans' Checklist of Cryptozoological Animals," Fortean Studies, Vol. 5 (1998)
- Shuker, Karl "A Scaly Tale from Rintja," Fortean Times, No. 116 (November 1998)
- Mareš, Jaroslav (1997) Svět Tajemných Zvířat: Kryptozoologická Encyklopedie, Littera Bohemica, ISBN 9788085916164