File photo: American television channel host Josh Gates displays what is believed to be 'Yeti' footprints to the media in Kathmandu.

Moscow - Its legend has long haunted the icy wastes of the Himalayas and Siberia.

Yet for all the mysterious sightings and strange footprints in the snow, the yeti has proved remarkably elusive to those seeking solid evidence of its existence.

Now, however, the Abominable Snowman has an international team of scientists on its trail in a Russian region which one expert claims is home to around 30 of the creatures.

An expedition and conference - the largest of its kind since 1958 - will this week bring together scientists from Russia and the US who have even agreed to share secret Cold War evidence in the effort to prove the humanoid beasts exist.

It follows a rise in apparent yeti sightings in the Kemerovo region 3,000 miles - and four time zones - east of Moscow.

One of the most recent was reported by 82-year-old Raisa Sudochakova, who claims her dogs howled in fear and ran when they saw the yeti.

She said: “It was still a tall creature, but not giant. It was covered with long brown-grey hair, like a bear. It wasn’t a bear - I have lived all my life in Siberia and wouldn’t make that mistake. This creature walked like a human, or almost like a human.”

Experts speculated she may have seen a young yeti, as other sightings have suggested the creatures are about 7ft.

This week’s expedition will begin with experts from six nations gathering at the International Centre of Hominology in Tashtagol.

Igor Burtsev, the centre’s director, believes around 30 yetis live in the Kuzbass coal mining area of Kemerovo, where villagers say they steal sheep and hens. He claims they are Neanderthals who have survived to this day. The event comes after the most recent expedition to find the yeti failed, despite the efforts of Russian heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuyev, known as the “Beast from the East”.

“Valuyev did not manage to meet the yeti itself but on the way he discovered traces such as broken tree branches,” said a local government spokesman. “By the time they reached the Azass cave, the expedition saw gigantic footprints.”

Not unsurprisingly, there has been a degree of scepticism over the latest hunt - not least from those who reckon it’s just an attempt to boost tourism in Kemerovo. - Daily Mail