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Grouping Cryptid
Other name(s) Breaker of boats (Translation)
Region Zambia,
Democratic Republic of Congo

The kongamato ("breaker of boats") is a reported pterosaur-like creature said to have been seen by the people of and explorers in the Mwinilunga district's Jiundu swamps of Western Zambia, Angola and Congo.[1] Suggested identities include a modern-day Rhamphorhynchus, a misidentified bird (such as the very large and peculiar saddle-billed stork), or a giant bat. No film has ever been taken, nor have any bodies been examined, leaving all of the stories to rely on large wounds and eyewitness accounts.


Frank Melland, in his 1923 book In Witchbound Africa, describes it as living along certain rivers, and very dangerous, often attacking small boats, and anybody who disturbed the creature. They are typically described as either red or black in color, with a wingspan of 4 to 7 feet. Members of the local Kaonde tribe identified it as similar to a pterosaur after being shown a picture 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 12 feet (0.91 to 1.07 meters) and a beak-to-tail length of about 4 12 feet (1.4 meters). It reportedly had a long thin tail, and a narrow head which he likened to an elongated snout of a dog.

The following year, at a hospital at Fort Rosebery, a patient came in with a severe wound in his chest, claiming that a large bird-like creature had attacked him in the Bangweulu Swamps. When asked to draw the creature, he allegedly drew a creature resembling a pterosaur. This drawing does not appear to have survived to the present.[2]

It is curious to note that the area concerned is advertised as a prime birdwatching site.[3] This shows this area is a popular area for birds.

There are reports of similar creatures (no details given) from Angola, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Tanzania and Kenya. The kongamato may be related to what is called a "flying snake" [4] in Namibia.


The kongamato has been seen by African natives and European explorers for some time, and almost all of the accounts say it is a reddish blackish creature resembling a pterosaur. Some other people have come back with large, deep wounds that they claim to be from the kongamato. Eyewitness accounts say the creature has teeth, leathery wings, a beak, and claws. Some British scientists and explorers have shown natives drawings of pterosaurs, and the natives were said to have a terrified reaction. Skeptics of the creature claim the kongamato is a hoax or a misidentification of a huge bat or a large stork. However, believers think that the beast has never been caught on film because as it supposedly lives in the thick vegetation of African swamps, there is not a good way to get a clear photo or film. Also, very few people know of this creature's supposed existence, and in the region it supposedly lives in, most people don't have cameras.

Since the kongamato was supposed to come up from underwater and upset canoes, the suggestion has been made that the name originally referred to a freshwater stingray. The reason for lack of sightings and film may also be explained by the creature's alleged nocturnal lifestyle.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Matthews, John (2005), The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures, p. 346
  2. ^ "Cryptids - Kongamato - Flying Demons of the Forbidden Swamps". Cryptozoology.com. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "Blog Archive » "Flying Snakes" and Pterosaurs in Namibia". Live Pterosaur. 2009-09-15. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Clark, J. Unexplained! (Visible Ink, 1993)
  • Shuker, K.P.N. In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (Blandford, 1995) ISBN 0-7137-2469-2