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Home >Cryptozoology - Mysteries of The Kongamato

 

Cryptozoology - Mysteries of The Kongamato

kongamato The Kongamato ("breaker of boats") is a reported pterosaur-like creature from the border area of Zambia, Angola and Congo. Suggested identities include a modern-day Rhamphorhynchus, a misidentified bird (such as the very large and peculiar Saddle-billed Stork), or a giant bat.

Frank Melland, in his 1923 book In Witchbound Africa, describes it as living along certain rivers, and very dangerous, often attacking small boats. It was red, with a wingspan of 4 to 7 feet. Members of the local Kaonde tribe identified it as a pterodactyl after being shown a picture of one from Melland's book collection.

In 1956 an engineer, J.P.F. Brown, allegedly saw the creature at Fort Rosebery near Lake Bangweulu in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). It was about 6:00 p.m. when he saw two creatures flying slowly and silently directly overhead. He observed that they looked prehistoric. He estimated a wingspan of about 3 to 3 1/2 feet (1 meter) and a beak-to-tail length of about 4 1/2 feet (1.5 meters). It reportedly had a long thin tail, and a narrow head which he likened to an elongated snout of a dog.



Some 65 million years ago, starting in the Jurassic and lasting into the Cretaceous, there existed a powerful flying reptile known as the Pterosaurs. The majority of fossils found have been in marine deposits, which means they probably were fish eaters and spent most of their time over coastal waters. These Pterosaurs apparently managed to fly with no feathers, their main aerodynamic feature where wings of membrane supported by an enormously elongated fourth finger. They had hollow limb bones and a large keeled breastbone attached to strong wing muscles which where needed for true flight, not just gliding.

The large expenditure of energy required to remain in flight for long periods of time, and the resulting loss of heat caused by the surface of their wings exposed to moving air, means that they must have had some method of regulating body heat, although it is doubtful they were truly warm blooded as mammals are. The majority of the Pterosaurs species where anywhere from the size of a sparrow to the size of an eagle, however some larger species have been discovered. The Pteranodon with a wingspan of 27 ft. and the colossal Quetzalcoatlus, with a wingspan of 50 ft, possibly 60 ft. are two examples of these larger species. Some pterosaurs even had fur, although they are in now way related to mammals. It would seem impossible that these creatures could have survived to the present day. After all, if they existed surely people would see them flying about as they hunted for food. How could a flying population of reptiles remain hidden? There are reports that people have been seeing flying creatures that match the description of pterosaurs for a hundreds of years. People have even been reportedly killed by these ancient flying creatures.

In 1923 a traveler by the name of Frank H. Melland worked for a time in Zambia. He gathered native reports of ferocious flying reptiles. The natives called this creature Kongamato which translated into “overwhelmer of boats". The Kongamato was said to have lived in the Jiundu swamps in the Mwinilunga District of western Zambia, near the border of Congo and Angola. It was described as having no feathers, smooth black or red skin, a wingspan between 4 ft. and 7 ft., and possessing a beak full of teeth.

It had a reputation for capsizing canoes and causing death to anyone who merely looked at it. When showed drawings of pterosaurs the native people present immediately and unhesitatingly picked it out and identified it as a Kongamato. Among the natives who did so was a rather wild and quite unsophisticated headman from the Jiundu country, where the Kongamato is supposed to be most active.

In 1925, a distinguished English newspaper correspondent, G. Ward Price, was with the future Duke of Windsor on an official visit to Rhodesia. He reported a story that a civil servant told them of the wounding of a man who entered a feared swamp in Rhodesia known to be the home of demons. The brave native entered the swamp, determined to explore it in spite of the dangers. When he returned he was on the verge of death from a great wound in his chest. He recounted how a strange huge bird with a long beak attacked him. When the civil servant showed the man a picture of a pterosaur, from a book of prehistoric animals, the man screamed in terror and fled from the servant's home.



In 1942 Colonel C. R. S. Pitman reported stories the natives told him of a large bat - bird like creature that lived the dense swampy regions of Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia. Tracks of the creatures were seen, with evidence of a large tail dragging the ground. These reports were not limited to Zambia, but also came from other locations in Africa such as Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya.

Skeptics suggest that these fantastic sounding tales derived from the fanciful imaginations of natives who were hired to work on archeological digs where fossilized pterosaurs were uncovered in Tendagaru, Tanzania, in the years prior to World War I. These digs, however, took place over 900 miles from Zambia. Why did no reports of living pterosaurs come from Tanzania, where these imaginative natives lived?

Perhaps the most striking report of living pterosaurs comes not from natives, but from white explorers in the employment of the British Museum. In 1932 through 1933 the Percy Sladen Expedition ventured deep into West Africa. In charge of the team was Ivan T. Sanderson, a well-known zoologist and writer. While in the Assumbo Mountains in the Cameroons, they made camp in a wooded valley near a steep banked river. They were out hunting near the river when Sanderson shot a large fruit-eating bat. Upon being shot the creature fell into the swift moving river below, as Sanderson was carefully making his way in the fast moving current, he lost his balance and fell in. He had just regained his balance when his companion suddenly shouted "Look out!"

"And I looked. Then I let out a shout also and instantly bobbed down under the water, because, coming straight at me only a few feet above the water was a black thing the size of an eagle. I had only a glimpse of its face, yet that was quite sufficient, for its lower jaw hung open and bore a semicircle of pointed white teeth set about their own width apart from each other. When I emerged, it was gone. George was facing the other way blazing off his second barrel.

I arrived dripping on my rock and we looked at each other. "Will it come back?" we chorused. And just before it became too dark to see, it came again, hurtling back down the river, its teeth chattering, the air "shss-shssing" as it was cleft by the great, black, dracula-like wings. We were both off-guard, my gun was unloaded, and the brute made straight for George. He ducked. The animal soared over him and was at once swallowed up in the night."

When Sanderson and George returned to camp they asked the natives about the creature. Sanderson asked them, spreading his arms, what kind of bat is this large and is all black? "Olitiau!" was the response. The natives asked Sanderson where they had seen this creature, to which Sanderson pointed back at the river. The natives fled in terror in the opposite direction, taking only their guns and leaving their valuables behind.

While it may be suggested that the creature that attacked Sanderson and George was merely the mate of the bat they had shot, it is somewhat unlikely. Fruit bats are not known for attacking humans, and Sanderson, a highly knowledgeable and internationally respected zoologist, clearly indicated that he did not recognize the creature. Fruit bats are a brownish or yellowish color. Sanderson described the creature as all black. He, however, did describe it as a bat and pterosaurs are bat-like.

In 1956 in Zambia along the Luapula River, engineer J.P.F. Brown was driving back to Salisbury from a visit to Kasenga in Zaire. He stopped at a location called Fort Rosebery, just to the west of Lake Bangweulu, for a break. It was about 6:00 p.m. when he saw two creatures flying slowly and silently directly overhead. Bewildered he observed that these creatures looked prehistoric.

He estimated a wingspan of about 3-3 1/2 feet, a long thin tail, and a narrow head, which he likened to an elongated snout of a dog. One of them opened its mouth in which he saw a large number of pointed teeth. He gave the beak to tail length at about 4 1/2 feet. After this report came out, a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. D. Gregor reported that they had seen a pair of 2 and a 1/2 ft. long flying lizards in Southern Rhodesia, and a Dr. J. Blake-Thompson reported that natives of the Awemba tribe had told of huge flying creatures resembling rats that would attack humans. They lived in caves in cliffs near the source of the great Zambezi River.

The Evidence

Despite many sightings by credible eye witnesses the Kongamato has left behind no physical evidence to prove that it actually exists. Natives, close to death after a run in with the creature, do not prove anything other than an attack of some kind did happen. As with the majority of crypid it will take a body, alive or dead, to prove to the world that the Kongamato exists in reality not in just myth and legend.

The Sightings

In 1923 a traveler by the name of Frank H. Melland worked for a time in Zambia. He gathered native reports of ferocious flying reptiles.

In 1925, a distinguished English newspaper correspondent, G. Ward Price, was with the future Duke of Windsor on an official visit to Rhodesia. He reported a story that a civil servant told them of the wounding of a man who entered a feared swamp in Rhodesia known to be the home of demons. The brave native entered the swamp, determined to explore it in spite of the dangers. When he returned he was on the verge of death from a great wound in his chest. He recounted how a strange huge bird with a long beak attacked him. When the civil servant showed the man a picture of a pterosaur, from a book of prehistoric animals, the man screamed in terror and fled from the servant's home.

In 1942 Colonel C. R. S. Pitman reported stories the natives told him of a large bat - bird like creature that lived the dense swampy regions of Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia.

In 1932 through 1933 the Percy Sladen Expedition ventured deep into West Africa. In charge of the team was Ivan T. Sanderson, a well-known zoologist and writer. After shooting a large bat by the river they set camp by, Sanderson was attached by a large unknown bat like bird.

In 1956 in Zambia along the Luapula River, engineer J.P.F. Brown was driving back to Salisbury from a visit to Kasenga in Zaire. He stopped at a location called Fort Rosebery, just to the west of Lake Bangweulu, for a break. It was about 6:00 p.m. when he saw two creatures flying slowly and silently directly overhead. Bewildered he observed that these creatures looked prehistoric. He estimated a wingspan of about 3-3 1/2 feet, a long thin tail, and a narrow head, which he likened to an elongated snout of a dog. One of them opened its mouth in which he saw a large number of pointed teeth. He gave the beak to tail length at about 4 1/2 feet.

In 1957, at a hospital at Fort Rosebery, the same location J. P. F. Brown had reported seeing strange flying creatures the year before, a patient came in with a severe wound in his chest. The doctor asked him what had happened and the native claimed that a great bird had attacked him in the Bangweulu Swamps. When asked to sketch the bird, the native drew a picture of a creature that resembled a pterosaur.

In 1988 Professor Roy Mackal led an expedition to Namibia where reports of a creature with a wingspan of up to 30 ft were collected. The avian cryptid usually glided through the air, but also was capable of true flight. It was usually seen at dusk, gliding between crevices between two hills about a mile apart. Although the expedition was not successful in getting solid evidence, one team member, James Kosi, reportedly saw the creature from about 1000 ft. away. He described it as a giant glider shape, black with white markings.

The Stats – (Where applicable)

• Classification: Avian
• Size: 4 – 8 foot wingspan average, some reports of wingspans as large as 30 feet have been reported.
• Weight: Unknown
• Diet: Carnivorous, fish and small rodents mainly
• Location: Africa
• Movement: Flight
• Environment: Dense Swamp Areas and Desert Mountain Ranges



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