The Pombéro (statue above), also called the Pÿragué, curupira, washipi or Karaí-Pyhare is a proto-pygmy reported in the Gran Chaco of south, central and northwest Paraguay, and the Formosa and Chaco provinces of Argentina. Notable for appearing commonly in Guarani and Mbayá folklore, Pomberos are described as small, muscular, human-like apes covered head to toe in dark hair, with chimp-like faces and long arms.
They live by creeks deep in the dense savannahs of the Gran Chaco. It's a sparsely populated steppe lacking roads and basic infrastructure that’s more than 786,000 km² in size. Pomberos are commonly depicted in folklore as being mischievous, playing tricks on travellers and stealing food, and sometimes are even malicious, kidnapping women and children. They are unable to speak, and only whistle for communication, but are also capable of mimicking bird calls. Pomberos are omnivorous, but especially enjoy cactus fruit, honey, and pine nuts. There are similar creatures to the Pombero in other parts of the Americas, like the Alux of the Yucatan, the Didi of Guyana or the Trauco of Chile.
On May 31st, 1985 on the outskirts of Sáenz Peña in the Chaco province of Argentina, two children, Galvan, 11, and Aguirre, 7, were playing near an abandoned house at dusk when they claimed to have been chased by a short, bipedal ape that ran at them out of the woods. They escaped unharmed but very frightened. Only a couple of days later on June 2nd, a group of teenagers claimed to have seen a monkey-like creature up a tree. It resembled a tiny hairy human with long arms, big canine teeth and large eyes.
Two days later a woman named Maidana saw a “little hairy black man” run across a gravel path on her way home. The next day a woman claimed to have seen the same “little black man” sitting on a mound of dirt. When she got closer, it ran away. Half an hour later at the same spot, two children saw it as well. Many of the witnesses didn’t know each other and were only publicized a week later after the police started investigating due to repeated calls about the creature, implying mass hysteria is unlikely.
Most reports of pomberos are relatively recent, probably due to increasing access to the internet and human encroachment into the Gran Chaco for housing and farms. One sighting was in 2018 in Paraguay near the Argentine border by Luis Cáceres. He was walking through a wooded trail to get to his neighbour’s birthday party when he claimed a small, but very strong, hairy man violently attacked him. He was bruised and bit quite badly and was so scared that he moved out of the neighbourhood shortly after.
Pomberos have allegedly been filmed twice, one in 2016, the other in 2018. The first video was filmed in the Chaco in northern Paraguay by some kids playing soccer. For most of the video, nothing happens, until they spot a small, dark, humanoid figure rocking back and forth in the meadow about 100 yards away. The kid filming points it out to the other kids, and they get scared and run away. Although the video is intriguing, especially because of their very genuine reaction and the very distinctly ape-like behaviour of rocking back and forth as a sign of aggression, it could easily have been faked and is too low quality to be conclusive.
The second video was filmed by Montse Gomez in central Paraguay and was uploaded to Facebook. The video shows her filming her son, but in the background, there appears to be some kind of hair covered ape-like creature with very long arms reaching or grabbing at something. The alleged pombero in the video is behind a tree, but at one moment it peaks behind the tree to look at them, giving a view of its body. It is covered in light brown hair and has massive shoulders and no visible neck. Some have speculated it’s a sloth, although others argue that it couldn’t be because there are no sloths in northwestern Paraguay and that its shoulders are too broad. Similarly, the only primate native to Paraguay, Azara’s night monkey, is much too small and is shaped differently.