Alternatively known as Salvaje, Achi, and Aigypan.
Allegedly, another mysterious primate from South America, this time from the Venezuelan jungles and the Colombian Andes.
The Vasitri are described as wild men-like hairy creatures that, according to the local Amerindians, construct primitive huts and crude weapons.
These beings are said to be extremely dangerous, ill-tempered and carnivorous, eating men but carrying off women for breeding purposes.
At the banks of the Upper Orinoco, at the valley of Upar near the lake of Maracaybo, at the mountains of Santa Martha and of Merida, at the provinces of Quixos, and at the banks of the Amazon near Tomependa, belief in these creatures is prevalent, particularly among the native peoples. In all these places, so distant one from the other, it is asserted that the Salvaje is easily recognized by the traces of its feet, the toes of which are turned backward. But if there really exists a hominid, monkey or ape of large size in the New Continent, how has it happened that for three centuries no man worthy of belief has been able to procure the skin or the carcass of one? A mystery indeed.
The earliest mention of these creatures was made in 1800 by Baron Alexander von Humboldt, the famous Prussian naturalist who mapped over 1,700 miles of the Orinoco River:
"On the Orinoco, it is rumored the existence of a hairy man of the woods called Salvaje, that carries off women, constructs huts, and sometimes eats human flesh. The Tamanacs call him Achi, and the Maypures named him Vasitri or "great devil." The natives and the missionaries have no doubt of the existence of this man-shaped monkey, of which they entertain a singular dread. Father Gili gravely relates the history of a lady in the town of San Carlos, in the Llanos of Venezuela, who much praised the gentle character and attentions of the man of the woods. She is stated to have lived several years with one in great domestic harmony, and only requested some hunters to take her back, "because she and her children (a little hairy also) were weary of living far from the church and the sacraments."
von Humboldt, notwithstanding his credulity, acknowledges that he never knew an Indian who asserted positively that he had seen the Salvaje with his own eyes.
Central and South American legends describing hairy, manlike beings as abductors of women also find Old World parallels. In the pictorial art and fiction of medieval Europe, wild men are often depicted carrying off ladies, presumably to share an amorous life in the greenwood, and the African folk belief that gorillas abduct human females is also widely known.
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Sources: (1) Anderson, Ivan T., Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, Adventures Unlimited Press; (2) Kirtley, Bacil F., Unknown Hominids and New World Legends, Western Folklore, Vol. XXIII April 1964, No. 2; (3) von Humboldt, Baron Alexander and Bonpland, Aime (Translated and Edited by Ross, Thomasina), Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of America During the Years 1799-1804, Vol. 2., The MacMillan Co.
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