Bigfoot of the U.S. and Nessie, the Loch Ness monster of the U.K., have inspired documentaries, mocumentaries, novels and fan clubs. But Africa boasts some pretty goose-bump-inducing creatures as well. Here are 10 monsters of Africa that may or may not be mythical.
The adze appears in legends of the Ewe people of Ghana and Togo and it is a triple threat. When taking the shape of a firefly, it can suck blood and spread disease. If you capture it, it will turn into a human and eat your organs. Its victims turn into witches possessed by the creature’s spirit. It’s believed that tales of this creature emerged to spread terror about malaria.
Reports of the popobawa only just began in the second half of the 1900s. Men in Zanzibar reported that a one-eyed, bat-winged creature had been breaking into their homes and sexually assaulting them in the night. The creature is said to be particularly cruel to those who don’t believe he exists. Several victims have come into the main hospital in Zanzibar with broken ribs and bruises, claiming the popobawa attacked them.
Liberian hunters consider this animal to be very real, and there are several stories of people who were killed and torn apart by an unknown animal in places where the ghabali supposedly roams. Those who’ve seen the animal say it looks like a crocodile with taller legs, so more like a dinosaur-crocodile.
Grootslang translates to big snake in Afrikaans. Legend has it that the elephant and the snake used to be one creature, and together they made up the grootslang, but the gods deemed the animal too powerful, and split it into two animals. However, a few grootslang managed to survive and reproduce, and now some say a grootslang lives in a cave in the Richtersveld region of South Africa. The animal reportedly guards a cave full of diamonds with his six sharp tusks.
The Pondo, Zulu and Xhosa people have a love-hate relationship with the impundulu — a human-sized vampire bird who, legend has it, drinks peoples’ blood and causes lightning storms, but also lays eggs with medicinal powers. The bird is part of witchcraft history, and many believe it protects a witch doctor. On occasion, the bird is said to morph into a handsome man and seduce women.
The kongamato looks like part giant bat, part bird, part dragon and is suspected to desend from dinosaurs. The creature is reported to frequent swamps and rivers in Zambia, Angola and Congo. Some believe this is just a giant species of featherless bird that has yet to be identified. Explorers have come back from the Kongamato’s region with enormous wounds, saying they’re from the creature.
The tokoloshe is an evil spirit of Zulu folklore, said to be a cross between a zombie, a poltergeist and a gremlin. Very strong physically, the tokoloshe is said to be able to knock over an ox with just one head butt. Legend has it shamans create the tokoloshes from dead bodies. When someone has offended a shaman, the shaman sends the tokoloshe to terrify or worse — kill — the offender.
The inkanyamba is a creature of Zulu and Xhosa folklore, and is said to live in the lake at the base of Howick Falls, South Africa. It is perhaps inspired by the freshwater eels in South Africa that can grow to be six feet long, but this monster is not just an overgrown sea creature. Legend has it this serpent controls the weather, and when it gets mad, it causes storms.
Ninki nanka is The Gambia River’s equivalent of the Loch Ness monster. The creature has been compared to a dragon, but has the body of a crocodile, the head of a horse, and a very long neck. Legend has it the creature is almost 50 feet long. In Gambian folklore, disobedient children who venture into the Ninki Nanka swamp will be taken by the monster.
The mokèlé-mbèmbé is said to look like a real dinosaur that lived more than 65 million years ago. Stories of this enormous creature began to surface in 1909 after a zoologist suggested long-necked dinosaurs might still exist in the Congo region of Africa. Several expeditions were launched over the years in search of the creature. There is no documented evidence of the creature, but local tribes have stories of sightings.