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The legend of the ‘dahu’: the French mountain goat that does not exist

The mysterious animal is said to be a kind of mountain goat and is widely spoken about across France and beyond

A photo of an Ibex mountain goat in Europe

The dahu is described as a kind of mountain goat but is more urban legend than a genuine animal… Pic: Andrew M. Allport / Shutterstock

It has been described as the yeti of the Pyrenees, and often portrayed as a kind of mountain goat with horns, a cow’s tail, and folded ears. And yet, no one has ever actually seen one.  

The ‘dahu’ – sometimes also known as the ‘dairi’, ‘darou’, or even the ‘tamarro’ – has become a mountain legend; the Musée d’histoire naturelle de La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland even has reference to the animal in its collection.

Some drawings even suggest that two of the animal’s legs are shorter on one side, to enable it to scale steep mountain faces (although this would mean that it would only be able to travel in one direction).

Despite the pervasiveness of the legend, no one has ever seen a dahu, and it is said that the animal was originally made up by mountain-dwellers to trick gullible city visitors.

Some villagers hosted ‘dahu hunts’ for these urban tourists, and suggested that the best way to catch the animal would be to whistle behind it to encourage it to turn around quickly and lose its balance. 

Upon their return (inevitably empty-handed), the hunters would then be told the truth…(well, sometimes).

Read more: Helicopter rescues hiker from French mountain goat 

The oral history legend spread and is spoken of in various mountainous areas of France, including in the Vosges, the Pyrenees, and the Jura, as well as across the border in Catalonia, and Switzerland.  

The legend is still much-loved among local children, who sometimes still head into the forest at nightfall in search of the mysterious dahu.

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