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BY SALAH AL DEBARKY / 24 November 2005

The vampire strikes back! Or so the residents of Sakmakam, a quiet suburb of Fujairah nestling at the foothills, believe. The rumour mills have been churning out reports of a vampire-like creature preying on the sheep in the area for blood.

"The creature catches the sheep by the neck, sucks their blood and leaves them dead," said many residents when City Times sought their reaction to the happenings in the area.

Consequently, Sakmakam has turned into a hot spot for journos, both from the print and visual media, with the hope of getting a scoop on the Fujairah 'vampire.'

It's not just the fourth estate which is keen on unravelling the mystery. Officials from Fujairah Municipality and the cops too have been doing the rounds in Sakmakam, seeking details from the residents about the creature.

Description of the creature varied, with some residents saying it was a small animal, probably a fox or wolf, while others said it was more likely the Arabian leopard. Incidentally, a series of similar incidents took place in the area five years ago, but the mystery was solved when a national shot dead the creature. And it turned out to be an Arabian leopard which was preying on the sheep.

Substantiating the fox theory, residents said the creature kills only the kids, and is easily frightened by the presence of human beings. Besides, it has not dared to attack rams or goats, they pointed out. "I have been living in this house for 38 years, and I have not heard anything, and had no idea at all about a beast attacking our sheep," Ali Humaid Mohammed Al Yamahi, a UAE citizen, adding that he came to know of it only after municipal officials visited the place and questioned him.

He said an animal had attacked a number of sheep and goats five years ago. "The beast attacked a large number of farms adjacent to the mountains before a farmer shot it dead after four nights of its nocturnal attacks," he added.

Confirming Al Yamahi's statement, Hassan Abdullah, another UAE national, went a step further stating that the creature returned to attack every five years.

Some wild animals come down from the hills occasionally and prey on goats and sheep, adding that the beast was likely the Arabian leopard, which he had not seen, and no one else in the area had seen.

Stating that people in the area were accustomed to wild animals, he said most of them protect their pens with strong mesh fences to keep these predators, especially wolves, at bay. Mohammed Obaid, also a national, said : "I have a farm and I have not seen any wild animal in the past five years. The trail I saw is that of a small animal, and it  resembles the fox or a wolf."

Ali Ahmed Abdullah, who owns a farm in Sakmakam, said 10 days ago, he lost a kid. "Later, I found the carcass and it had been killed and its blood sucked by the creature," he added.

Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Ahmed bin Ghanim, Director General of Fujairah Police, said : "We have not received any report from the residents on domestic animals going missing or being attacked by an animal."

"We had not even hear about this creature," he said, adding that sheep or cattle may have been attacked by a pack of wolves if the shepherd had left the animals unguarded. Echoing similar sentiments, Director of Fujairah Municipality Engineer Rashid Hamdan said no complaint was lodged with the civic body regarding such incidents. "The moment we read the report in a newspaper about a blood-sucking creature, we took precautionary measures, besides meeting many residents, and most of them said they had no idea about the matter," he said.


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