Beast of Gevaudan

The Beast of Gevaudan or also known locally as the La Bête du Gévaudan was the name given to a man-eating wolf that terrorized Gevaudan.  It is said to be  the inspiration behind the novel “Hound of Baskerville” by Arthur Conan Doyle.  The Beast of Gevaudan is not part of any myth, it is real.  It left more than footprint and killed more than 80 people.

The story of the beast of Gevaudan was documented after the French Revolution in year 1789.  Account said that between the months of May 1764 to June 1767, a huge wolf like creature preyed on women and children, killing at around 80-113 people.  The number of injured individual was never documented.

Montague Summer’s also gave the description of the beast which was also based in London Magazine dated 1765
 
“For months this animal panic-struck the whole region ofLanguedoc, and is said to have devoured more than onehundred persons. Not merely solitary wayfarers wereattacked by it, but even larger companies traveling incoaches and armed. Its teeth were most formidable. Withits immense tail it could deal swinging blows. It vaultedto tremendous heights, and ran with supernatural speed.The stench of the brute was beyond description. 
Witnesses attested that the said Beast of Gevaudan attack suddenly and sometimes in broad daylight and will vanish after into the thick forest.  Some people claimed that the beast remained silent as it was hunting its prey others said that they heard a loud noise like the neigh of the horse.    Its appearance cannot be compared to a normal wolf; its muscular built will frightened any individuals who come across the said beast.  The news about the man eating wolf quickly spread all over the land even reaching Louis XV who commissioned hunters to hunt the beast. The hunters arrived at the rumoured place with hounds trained for hunting wolves.  The hunters claimed to kill a number of Eurasian wolves during their hunt; they believed that those are the beasts that are causing the random attacks.  But four months later and the attack of the Beast of Gevaudan continued.  They were replaced by Francois Antoine, The lieutenant of the hunt who arrived on June 22.  Antoine managed to kill a huge wolf, stuffed it and sent to Versailles.  Antoine was given a huge amount of money as a reward.  But on the 2nd of December, 1769 the attacks continued, harming more than a dozen of people.

The credit of killing the beast was given to a local hunter named Jean Chastel.  But his claims were surrounded by controversy.  Chastel said that when the huge hunting started, he sat down with the Bible and prayed.  While Chastel was praying the beast came into sight, he shot the beast but not until he finished his prayer.  The townsfolk could hardly believe his story since the beast has an uncanny ability to conceal itself when preparing for an attack.

Up to this day, the identity of the beast remained a mystery.   Some says that the deaths on those days are a result of pack of wolves, or that the story about the Beast may have been exaggerated.  Some says that the beast may have been an exotic animal.  No matter what it is, the beast continues to baffles the imagination of today’s generation.


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