COLCHANE – Llama and alpaca farmers in northern Chile are on high alert after attacks on their livestock by what some say is a chupacabras. No one has been able to confirm the source of the attacks. The circumstances breathe new life into the myth of the chupacabras.
The chupacabras (also “chupacabra,” literally, “goat-sucker” in Spanish) has been a legend in the Americas for over two decades, after the discovery of eight dead sheep in Puerto Rico. After that first alleged attack, similar incidents were reported in Mexico, Panama, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, and, of course, Chile. Legend has it that the chupacabras is a hairless dog-like creature that sucks its victims blood dry.
In the northern village of Colchane, near the Chile-Bolivia border, recent reports of young llamas and alpacas being killed have farmers and villagers concerned. Luis Choque, one of the affected farmers said, “it bites the side of their necks. It doesn’t eat their meat or entrails. I have never seen anything like this. It attacks at night and the animals don’t defend their young,” as reported by Clarín.
Locals also said that the creature does not leave any footprints, making it even harder to establish the culprit. The mayor of Colchane, Javier García, called in local veterinarian Andrea Nieto to help assess the situation: “only two perforations are seen at the thorax and [they] pierced the lungs. It is not a local predator.” When asked about what species could be behind the attack, Nieto said it was hard to say and that “[t]hese are not marks left by a fox or mountain lion.”
Mayor García also said that all information is in the hands of the Agriculture and Livestock Service and that he and Colchane’s neighbors are demanding answers. “If necessary, we will send reports to other entities and NGOs to help us find this creature,” he added.
What does science say about the chupacabras?
Many of the chupacabras sightings in the United States turned out to be mangey coyotes, dogs, or even raccoons, as noted by Benjamin Radford of the Skeptical Inquirer, which explains why reports usually reflect the creature’s attack on livestock.
The legend of the chupacabras also says that it has shape-shifting abilities: in 2018, reports emerged that cattle were attacked near Santa Fe, Argentina. However, research concluded that rats were responsible for these “attacks,” with Argentinian scientists adding that these animals had died due to the usual diseases that affect them in winter, and, once dead, scavengers like these rats, foxes, and birds proceeded to “clean the crime scene.”
For now, the chupacabras is yet to be found, alongside Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness monster.
Francisco is finishing his degree in Journalism at Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago.