The "red elephants" are an unknown species of elephant seen in the Sudirman Mountains in West Papua. They are known from only one sighting by the American Navy pilot, Ensign Bernard, as well as Wayne Wright, an engineer who was on board. On June 15th, 1952, they were flying over the jungle when they came across a massive canyon, with a herd of reddish-coloured elephants at the bottom. Besides their unusual colour, they were also slightly smaller than Asian elephants. Their sighting was dismissed as a hoax until three years later when the canyons they encountered were rediscovered, albeit with no red elephants.
A "Dr. Lawrence," from the University of Massachusetts, proposed the pilots have misidentified a known species and confused them for elephants. Japanese cryptozoologist Tatsuo Saneyoshi argues that there are no animals that remotely resemble elephants in New Guinea, with the largest animal being wild boars, which rarely exceed 200 pounds. Saneyoshi speculated that the elephants they saw were not naturally red, but could have had a dust bath, which stains their skin (below). Karl Shuker theorized that if there are elephants in New Guinea, perhaps they were introduced as beasts of burden by Indochinese or Malayan travellers or explorers.