(C) Copyright Ben S. Roesch 1995

In February and March of 1992, the intrepid British explorer Sir John Blashford-Snell was trekking through a remote valley in the Bardia region of western Nepal in search of "giant elephants" reported by the locals. Two representatives of these strange elephants, both bulls, were eventually observed - and photographed. The two beasts, living up to their reputation, were estimated to have footprints measuring 22.5 inches across and a height to the shoulders of 11 feet 3 inches, which makes them even larger than the largest-ever recorded specimen of the Asian elephant, Elephas maximus . Adding to the confusion was the presence of two very large domes on each elephant's forehead, and a distinctive nasal bridge. These two features are not present on normal Asian elephants, but are, however, distinct on an extinct species of primitive elephant, the Stegodont .

Of course, the problem is that the Stegodont , the ancestor of both the African and Asian elephants we know today, as well as the extinct mammoth, apparently died out more than a million years ago. But this didn't stop Canadian paleontologist Dr. Clive Coy , as well as Snell himself, to speculate that the giant Nepalese elephants could very well be, in fact, representatives of the presumedly extinct Stegodont.

However romantic and likable, not to mention being a great cryptozoological triumph, the Stegodont theory is now thought to be unlikely. The theory now favoured by cryptozoologists, is that these "giant elephants" are more likely to be mutant versions of the normal Asian elephant, rather than a Stegodont or even a separate, new species of elephant. One of the reasons behind this more orthodox solution is that a stegodont surviving to this day is perhaps a little far fetched (though nothing is truly far-fetched in cryptozoology!).

Another more scientific explanation is the fact that the elephants live in an isolated valley, and when a small population of any species of animal is isolated in a region, and begins to interbreed, genetic mutations are bound to crop up over time. But even if the creatures are genetic mutations, they are still quite intriguing, and may even be evolution in the making; therefore, these giant elephants should not be simply dismissed as uninteresting "freaks", but rather warrant further investigation. And when these investigations take place, hopefully a specimen will be anatomically examined by a professional scientist, and the true answer behind its identity will finally be known.

Sources: Coleman, Loren. 1993. "Crypto-Zoo News," Strange Magazine , Fall-Winter, p. 28-29 // Shuker, Karl P.N. 1993. The Lost Ark . London: Harper Collins // Shuker, Karl P.N. 1995. Personal communication, August 19. // Shuker, Karl P.N. 1995. Personal communication, October 23.