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Legendary monsters of Africa

The Bunyip in Chander Pahar gains in mystery since the author never gives a description – he leaves us readers to imagine the size and ferocity of the beast. Africa, as befits the Dark Continent, has many legendary beasts, just as the Himalayas can claim the Yeti, and Pacific Northwest of the USA has its Bigfoot.

There’s the Dingonek – Wikipedia describes it as a scaly, scorpion tailed, saber toothed cryptid seen in Africa. Hailing from the Congolese jungles (primarily in the nation formerly known as Zaire), the Dingonek is yet another in a long line of West African cryptids – such as the Chipekwe, the Jago-nini and the Emela-ntouka. At the Brackfontein Ridge in South Africa is a cave painting of an unknown creature that fits the description of the dingonek, right down to its walrus-like tusks. Said to dwell in the rivers and lakes of western Africa, the Dingonek has been described as being approximately 12-feet in length, with a squarish head, a long horn, saber-like canines – which has resulted in its nickname the “Jungle Walrus” – and a tail complete with a bony, dart-like appendage, which is reputed to be able to secrete a deadly poison. This creature is also said to be covered head to toe in a scaly, mottled epidermis, which has been likened to the prehistoric-looking Asian anteater known as the pangolin. The description by John Alfred Jordan, an explorer who actually shot at this unidentified monster in the River Maggori in Kenya in 1907, claimed this scale-covered creature was as big as 18 feet long and had reptilian claws, a spotted back, long tail, and a big head out of which grew large, curved, walrus-like tusks. It is said to be exceedingly territorial and has been known to kill any hippos, crocodiles and even unwary fishermen, who have had the misfortune of wandering too close to their aquatic nests. This may (or may not be) a picture of a Dingonek.

There are numerous reports of a strange, horned creature along the west coast of central Africa. French zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans discusses some of them in his 1959 book On the Track of Unknown Animals under the category of “water elephant” and “forest rhinoceros.”

In December, 1919, the London Daily Mail published a letter from C.G. James, who had lived in what is now Zambia. He reported on an enormous beast with a single ivory horn living in the waters of Lakes Bangweulu and the surrounding lakes and swamps. James said this animal was called “Chipekwe” by the natives. The same creature is also mentioned in both Millais’ 1924 book Far Away Up the Nile, and Hughes’ 1933 volume Eighteen Years on Lake Bangweulu. The latter describes Wa-Ushi tribesmen actually killing such a creature along the Luapula River that leads to Lake Bangweulu. They detailed how its smooth body was armed with a single horn fixed like that of a rhinoceros, but composed of smooth white, highly-polished ivory. Hughes tells of a hippo that was said to be killed by a Chipekwe. The throat was torn out. (Hughes, 1933, p. 146.) Indigenous peoples near Lake Edward in Zaire, call this same creature “Irizima” and refer to it as a “gigantic hippopotamus with the horns of a rhinoceros on its head.”

In Mali the Bambara people sculpture iron figurines of a three-horned creature with long points coming off the neck much like the ceratopsian dinosaur Chasmosaurus. (See Ancient Depictions in Room 1 of the Exhibit Hall.) In Cameroon the Baka pygmies identify pictures of a Triceratops with an animal they call the Ngoubou. They report it being big as an ox, possessing a neck frill, and sporting from one to four horns. Apparently the mature male has the largest frill. Perhaps this is the same species as the Emela-ntouka in the Congo and the observers there merely saw the single-horned variety or younger creatures. The Ngoubou is said to inhabit the savannas along the Boumba and Sanga river where it is known to fight with elephants. French cryptozoologist Michel Ballot’s 2004 photograph (left) of a native’s wood carving representation of Ngoubou bears some resemblance to the picture of the Emela-ntouka from Roy Mackal’s 1987 book A Living Dinosaur. This could be the Emela-ntouka.

This, perhaps, could be the Chipekwe.

The Bunyip of Chander Pahar actually originated in Australia! Here’s Wikipedia on this beast: The bunyip, or kianpraty, is a large mythical creature from Aboriginal mythology, said to lurk in swamps, billabongs, creeks, riverbeds, and waterholes. The origin of the word bunyip has been traced to the Wemba-Wemba or Wergaia language of Aboriginal people of South-Eastern Australia. However, the bunyip appears to have formed part of traditional Aboriginal beliefs and stories throughout Australia, although its name varied according to tribal nomenclature. In his 2001 book, writer Robert Holden identified at least nine regional variations for the creature known as the bunyip across Aboriginal Australia. Various written accounts of bunyips were made by Europeans in the early and mid-19th century, as settlement spread across the country.” This is what the creature could have looked like to an artist who drew this in the 1890s.

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About thecrestedjay

I am passionate about football, jazz, classic rock, classic movies, crime, science fiction and P G Wodehouse. And also about NBA, western and Indian classical music. Since the wife will also read this blog, I cannot reveal my other passions in public. Have one son who plays the guitar, spent some time as an animator and now works for a digital marketing and advertising company. I also have one (1) wife. I spent a lot of my time on my music and books collection. I also have a passion for travelling but not a great deal of time and money to spend on this. Hopefully, in the future, I'll be able to do so.

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