The island of Java, located in Indonesia, was formed mostly by volcanic activity and is the world’s thirteenth largest island. With roughly 124 million people, it is also one of the most densely populated. Because of the overpopulation, the native rainforests have just about disappeared. Only Gunung Halimun National Park remains. The park supports 23 mammal species, over 200 varieties of birds, and over 500 forms of plant life. It is also the home to claims of a strange cryptid called the Ahool.
Description of the Ahool
The Ahool is named after its long A-hool call. Eyewitnesses claim the Ahool is a bat-like creature roughly the size of a one-year-old child with a wingspan of approximately twelve feet. The Ahool is reported to be covered short, dark grey fur and large, black eyes. The Ahool has flattened forearms supporting its leathery wings and a monkey-like head with a flattish man-like face. The Ahool is reported to have been seen squatting on the forest floor with its wings closed and pressed against its body. The Ahool’s feet appear to point backwards. It is thought to be nocturnal and spend its days sleeping in caves behind the waterfalls. At night, the Ahool hunts fish.
Sightings of the Ahool by Naturalist Ernest Bartels
In 1925, naturalist Ernest Bartels was exploring waterfalls at the slopes of the Salek Mountains when a giant bat swooped over his head. Two years later, Bartels again had an experience with the Ahool. This time he was lying in his bed in his thatched house near the Tjidenkol River when he heard a strange A-hool sound. He grabbed his flashlight and tried to follow the sound. Although he heard the “A-hool” again, he did not see the creature. At one time, Bartels suggested he might be seeing a bird, perhaps a large owl. However, his colleagues disagreed with the theory, stating that Bartels could tell the difference between an owl and a bat.
Explanations for the Ahool
The most popular explanation is that the Ahool is an unclassified form of large bat, although the wingspan is twice that of the world’s largest known bat, the common flying fox. Cryptozoologist, Ivan T. Sanderson, who had a similar experience with a similar creature in the African country of Cameroon called the Kongamato, has suggested that the Ahool could be related to that cryptoid. Other researchers have suggested the Ahool could be a pterosaur, a flying reptile thought to have gone extinct around the time of the dinosaurs. The description of the Ahool does match the data researchers have on the pterosaur. A third, less popular theory is that the Ahool may be the world’s first flying primate. Another explanation includes that the Ahool is a misidentified wood owl.
At the rate of destruction of Java’s rainforest destroying its habitat, we may never know what the Ahool really is.