The Congo River Basin is one of the most curious and dark regions of the modern world. While modern man often holds fast to the rather contentious view that we know all the flora and fauna this world has provided, there are strange legends that emanate from this region which may beg to differ, and point to there being creatures of large proportions that are as yet unknown to science.
Recent discussions with various researcher friends of mine have helped liven an old interest in this region, as well as its folkloric fauna. Among these, perhaps the most popular is the persistent myth of dinosaurs said to still exist in the heart of the Congo. A creature known as mokele mbembe has become, arguably, the celebrity of the bunch (at least in cryptozoology circles), dealing with reports of a long necked beast resembling a saurian monstrosity the likes of which Earth hasn’t seen for perhaps millions of years.
What I find interesting about these reports is their utter plausibility, at least in physical terms: we know from the fossil record that such animals once existed on our planet, and furthermore, that with instances like the modern day giraffe, there are still animals today which bear the kinds of evolutionary quirks that would produce a long neck, much like the sauropods of ancient Earth. But perhaps even more fascinating than the idea of just one amazing mystery beast in the Congo is the idea that there are others, which are perhaps equally impressive in their legendary stature.
Another that comes to mind is the mythical beast known as Emela Ntouka, a creature also said to inhabit the Congo River Basin, as well as the waters around Lake Bangwelu in Zambia. Reports of such animals describe a monster that resembles a large rhinoceros, though a bit larger, and sometimes adorned with features that include spikes or humps. Much like the mokele mbembe creature, this animal, which is said to be capable of stabbing and killing an elephant with the long horn protruding from its snout, is fiercely territorial.
A fascinating report of a similar creature was gathered by the cryptozoologist Bernard Huevelmans, as related in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals. The story was first reported in November of 1919, in a newspaper article that claimed a hunter named Lepage had encountered the creature, while employed as a railway construction foreman in the Belgian Congo. The story goes that Lepage met an “extraordinary monster” during one of his hunts, which upon noticing him, aggressively charged at Lepage. Huevelmans recounted the story Lepage’s escape, and his subsequent observation of the beast, as follows:
Lepage fired but was forced to flee, with the monster in chase. The animal before long gave up the chase and Lepage was able to examine it through his binoculars. The animal, he says, was about 24 feet in length with a long pointed snout adorned with tusks like horns and a short horn above the nostrils. The front feet were like those of a horse and the hind hoofs were cloven. There was a scaly hump on the monsters shoulder.
There are, in truth, a variety of cultural names for beasts of this sort, ranging from the Emela Ntouka to the rather redundant mbielu-mbielu-mbiely and Ndoubog, the latter of which had been the accurate cultural name for the account Huevelmans relates above. What are these creatures, and is there more to their supposed existence than the mere stuff of legend? Furthermore, if there are indeed large animals in the Congo that remain as-yet undiscovered, what is the likelihood that some of these beasts could indeed be the descendants of saurian ancestors who once roamed the Earth?