An artist's impression of the kongamato attacking a boat.
|Other name(s)||Breaker of boats (Translation)|
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. 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 Witch-bound 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.
Biologist Ivan T. Sanderson described a close encounter with a creature alleged to be a kongamato in the 1930s.
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 (0.91 to 1.07 meters) and a beak-to-tail length of about 4 1⁄2 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.
- Matthews, John (2005), The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures, p. 346
- Melland, Frank H. In Witch-bound Africa. Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott Company. pp. 237–242 – via Internet Archive.
- Serret, Cisco. "Kongamato - Flying Demons of the Forbidden Swamps". Cryptozoology.com. Archived from the original on 15 February 2008.