Kathmandu: An American TV host who travelled to the Himalayas to film a show on the mysterious yeti said Sunday he took castings from three footprints that could prove the legendary giant ape exists and is living on Mount Everest.
Josh Gates, the host of Sci Fi's ''Destination Truth'' show, said he and his crew found three footprints Nov 28 when they were investigating reported yeti sightings by Sherpas and farmers living in the remote Khumbu region.
One print was clearly from a right foot with five toes, and was about 33 centimetres (13 inches) long, but the other two were only partial prints, Gates said. The footprints were found on rock and sand, he said.
The TV crew planned to have the castings analysed in the United States, he said, without providing details.
''We are excited about what we found,'' Gates said before leaving Nepal on Sunday.
Ang Tshering, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said he had talked to the American film crew and heard their story, but was not convinced they had found yeti prints.
''It could most likely be footprints of the mountain bear which is found in the area,'' Tshering said. ''They showed five toes in the footprint cast they brought back, but according to the legends we hear from the villagers the yeti is only supposed to have four toes.''
Sherpas and sheep herders have for years told stories of a giant ape-like creature that roams the remote mountainous area near Mount Everest. There is no confirmed photographic evidence to support their claimed sightings.
Gates' claims were not independently verified before he left Nepal, and he seemed to accept that the prints may not be enough to prove the yeti's existence.
''The unfortunate thing about footprint castings is that they are rarely conclusive,'' he said.
Tshering said he believed there is something unusual wandering the Himalayas, but that Gates' discovery would probably not prove anything new.
''There is a mysterious animal that exists in this region but that does not necessarily mean it is a yeti,'' he said. ''It is still hard to say if this is a myth or reality.''