What is the Orang-Bati of Indonesia?
Is it just another name for the ahool of Java?
Is it related to the ropen of Papua New Guinea?
“Gitmo Pterosaur” of eastern Cuba
Sketch by eyewitness Eskin Kuhn
According to Wikipedia, “it is rumored to inhabit the Indonesian island of
Seram. According to local folklore, the bat-like or somewhat monkey-like
creatures abduct children and carry them away to be eaten. Other accounts
sound more like encounters with living Pterosaurs.”
But the Indonesian word “orang” means “person,” not monkey, so maybe
the tradition about monkey-like features is not to be taken too seriously:
It may be that the orang-bati is simply more like a monkey than a person.
One clue is in the tradition about capturing young humans. Those stories
are also found in Papua New Guinea. The indava flying creatures, seen
near Tawa Village, deep in the interior of the mainland of PNG, are said
to have carried away children and pigs from the villagers, in the past. A
great defense was found, however, when those villagers learned that a
lot of noise would frighten away the indavas. The flying creatures got
tired of being scared away by screams and other human noises, so they
gave up attacking Tawa Village.
The kor of the northern islands of Papua New Guinea have also been
said to attack people, especially in the past. This nocturnal glowing
creature is probably closely related to the ropen of Umboi Island, if
it isn’t actually the same species. They are thought to be pterosaurs.
The above photograph was taken on Seram Island, Indonesia. Could this large flying
creature be an orang-bati? To answer that question, see the close-up below.
Doubtless the local natives know what lives around them in this tropical rain forest.
They would not see a common flying creature or flying bird, and readily misidentify
it as the orang-bati.
Below is the blow-up of the above photograph, showing what it really is:
The flying fox fruit bat is well known to natives of Seram Island, surely. It is unlikely
that stories of children being carried away come from encounters with fruit bats. It
may seem easy to simply dismiss those traditions, for they seem too fantastic to us
who live in Western countries where pterosaur extinction is taken for granted. But
why should all species of pterosaurs be extinct? Many eyewitnesses from around the
world have reported living pterosaurs, some of the flying creatures being huge.
With that said, a few reports may have been misidentifications, not the Orang-bati
but a large fuit bat. The ropen of Papua New Guinea, however, is a different matter.
This one is a flying fox fruit bat
Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea
Twenty-first-century cryptozoology explorers have searched for the ropen
with various results. Paul Nation and his son Nathanael failed to see any
ropen on Umboi Island in 2002. Jonathan Whitcomb also failed to see the
cryptid in 2004, although his interpreter did see the flying light one night.
But Whitcomb interviewed many eyewitnesses and later wrote books on
living pterosaurs, including the ropen.
Gideon Koro was interviewed by Jonathan Whitcomb,
in 2004, on Umboi Island. The American found this
native’s testimony to be highly credible: The long-
tailed ropen terrified Gideon and six other boys, as
it flew over Lake Pung one day around 1994. Gideon
estimated the tail length at seven meters.
Living Pterosaurs Worldwide
Statistics of Pterosaur Sightings
Special thanks to Kai Bey for two photos shown here, including the one of the bat
No doubt large winged
creatures can fly long
distances, making the
transit time brief getting
between Indonesia and
Papua New Guinea. That
does not mean that the
ropen of Umboi Island
(or the mainland of
Papua New Guinea) is
the same species as the
Part of the Title Page of this true-life adventure book:
A few Americans explored a few islands in the southwest Pacific, in brief
expeditions scattered between 1993 and 2007, looking for a modern
pterosaur. “Creationist” each man was labeled, yet many of those following
them carried no religious purpose. The creatures have many names: seklo-
bali, duwas, wawanar, indava, kor, kundua. In Papua New Guinea, natives
in isolated communities speak in village languages numbering in the
hundreds, yet many natives carry a common fear in the dark: a huge
glowing creature flying in the night. Natives on Umboi Island call it “ropen.”
(From the book Searching for Ropens and Finding God, by Whitcomb)
Quest for the discovery of modern living pterosaurs
Nonfiction book on non-extinct “flying dinosaurs”