Does the Kongamato Exist?

Post 724

1956. Lake Bangweulu near Fort Roseberry, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Engineer J.P.F. Brown was driving back to Salisbury, the capital, at around six in the evening. He pulled over to get something out of the back of his car, when, suddenly, he noticed two most unusual creatures flying silently overhead. It was dark but he was sure of what he saw. Two huge creatures with a large wingspan and long bodies, with a thin tail and narrow head. He said what he saw was ‘prehistoric’. A few months later, in 1957, a patient with a severe chest wound was admitted to a hospital at Fort Roseberry. He said he was attacked by a giant flying animal around the murky swamps of Bangweulu, identical to that which brown saw. He drew what he saw and what he sketched startled the experts. It closely resembled a pterosaur, a huge flying reptile from the age of the dinosaurs…

It was explorer Frank Melland who introduced the world to such a strange notion. In a book of his from 1923, In Witchbound Africa, he described this unusual flying animal as extremely dangerous and prone to attack small boats and even humans. Often red or black in colour, with leathery wings devoid of feathers. It was very well known to the local tribes. When shown a book of pictures of dinosaurs and creatures from that era, the natives all pointed to the same picture. The image of a pterosaur.

There have been sightings across Africa, not just in Zambia. There are strange tales from the Congo and Angola, too. For decades, there have been reports from explorers of encounters with this bizarre animal. Dozens of hospitals have reported wounds similar to those from the patient from 1957, with those victim’s descriptions of the beast that attacked them also matching. Exploratory trips to Zambia and Lake Bangweulu, some as recently as 2010, have set out to discover the truth. But none of these trips found any evidence of such a creature.

Could it exist? A modern day pterosaur, perhaps, flying over Africa? Some blame the power of suggestibility in the darkened and lonely nights, confounding and confusing witness accounts in the heat of panic. Maybe it’s just a misidentified bird, such as the saddle-billed stork, or even a giant bat. It is an area often described as a prime bird watching site, yet birdwatchers never report anything unusual. It’s a legend all down to the explorers and the locals, a legend without photos or films, leaving us with nothing to go on but stories.

So, does this creature exist? I think it’s unlikely but not improbable. Regardless, it remains an intriguing tale from the heart of Africa…

So I’ll give this creature a 137 on my patented Cryptid-o-Meter, putting it 9th in the list of 33, with the Basilisk still bottom and the Beast of Gévauden still holding top spot.

The Kongamato. A fascinating cryptid indeed.

Ciao :)(:


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