The Jakarta Post
“It's not a ghost; it’s a Mante, an ancient tribe thought to have been extinct,” says YouTube account Cut Loucia.
The user was referring to an Old Malay or Proto Malayan pygmy tribe that is widely considered to be a myth. “I only believed it after watching this.”
The comments were made on a clip posted by user named Fredography on March 22, which was quick to trigger an internet frenzy.
In the video, which had been viewed more than 8.8 million times as of Saturday, a group of trail motorbikers was startled by the appearance of a human-like creature that was smaller in stature suddenly emerging from the woods.
The bald, topless figure stopped briefly before running off. Some of the riders tried to chase it, but it ran back into the woods and disappeared.
The Mante tribe was said to have lived in forests in the Aceh hinterland, where the footage was reportedly taken.
The “sighting” has resulted in discussions about whether the Mante do exist.
Anthropologist Fikarwin Zuska of the University of North Sumatra in Medan said no scientific research had proven the existence of the Mante tribe.
“The tribe has only been found in Aceh or Gayo folklore,” Fikarwin said on Friday, adding that books based on folklore made some people consider the story part of history.
Others have speculated that it was an Orang Pendek, which literally means “short man” but refers to cryptids in remote and mountainous forests of Sumatra.
Researchers have reported numerous sightings of Orang Pendek since the 1920s, whom they believe are no more than 120 centimeters in height. This humanoid creature is said to be bipedal but covered in thick fur.
Regardless the size, it is incredibly powerful and said to have the strength to rip small trees straight out of the ground, according to Exemplore, which refers to it as the “ape man of Sumatra.”
Fikarwin shrugged off the speculation, saying it may have been someone small in size who could have been in the forest for a number of reasons.
Mount Leuser National Park (TNGL) spokesman Joko Iswanto said he did not believe the footage was shot in the protected forest.
“No motorcycle community has been reported to conduct activities here because such a thing is forbidden,” he said on Friday.
“We have never heard of the Mante tribe being in the park, let alone sighted any,” Joko added.
Nonetheless, Facebook user “Fredo Pastrana,” the owner of Fredography, said he would never reveal the exact location of where the footage was taken.
“For the sake of environmental sustainability, we must remain silent. Banish any thought of finding the [creature]. Find God instead,” he wrote on Facebook on March 26. (bbs)