Mokele-Mbembe – the mysterious monster in the Congo River Basin

A water-dwelling entity that supposedly lives in the Congo River Basin, sometimes described as a living creature, sometimes as a mysterious otherworldly entity.
Mokele-Mbembe – the mysterious monster in the Congo River Basin 1

Deep in the Congo River Basin, hidden away in remote forests and river systems, lives a creature that has been spoken of for centuries. It’s an elusive monster with a long, serpentine body and short legs. It’s likely that the legends of this creature date back to pre-colonial times when European explorers first came across it during their expeditions into the Congo River Basin.

Mokele-Mbembe – the mysterious monster in the Congo River Basin 2
Aerial view of congo river above Livingstone Falls stock photo, Congo Basin, West Africa. © iStock

Even though these early explorers kept their findings confidential, word spread about the strange creatures they had encountered. In time, stories began circulating among local tribes describing a strange monster that lived in their area: Mokele-mbembe. Sightings of this cryptid continue to this day, making the search for this creature one of the most exciting cryptozoological quests today.

Mokele-mbembe – the mysterious monster of the Congo River

Mokele-Mbembe – the mysterious monster in the Congo River Basin 3
Drawing of Mokele-mbembe and its comparison with an African tribe man. Those that heard or that allegedly saw the entity describe it as a large quadrupedal herbivore with a smooth skin, a long neck and a single tooth, sometimes said to be a horn. © Wikimedia Commons

Mokele-mbembe, Lingala for “one who stops the flow of rivers”, is a water-dwelling entity that supposedly lives in the Congo River Basin, sometimes described as a living creature, sometimes as a mysterious entity.

The cryptid is widely documented in local folklore as having an elephant-like body with a long neck and tail and a small head. This description fits with the description of a small Sauropod. This gives the legend some credence with cryptozoologists who continue to this day to search for the Mokele-mbembe in the hopes it is a relic dinosaur. So far though only claimed sightings, grainy long distance video and a few photographs form the evidence for the existence of the Mokele-mbembe.

Perhaps among the most compelling of the evidence is the reported killing of a Mokele-mbembe. Reverend Eugene Thomas from Ohio, USA, told James Powell and Dr. Roy P. Mackal in 1979 a story that involved the purported killing of a Mokele-mbembe near Lake Tele in 1959.

Mokele-Mbembe – the mysterious monster in the Congo River Basin 4
The African Pygmy hunters are said to have speared and killed a Mokele-mbembe at lake Tele around 1959 © Fandom

Thomas was a missionary who had served in the Congo since 1955, gathering much of the earliest evidence and reports, and claiming to have had two close-encounters himself. Natives of the Bangombe tribe who lived near Lake Tele were said to have constructed a large spiked fence in a tributary of Tele to keep Mokele-mbembe from interfering in their fishing.

A Mokele-mbembe managed to break through, though it was wounded on the spikes, and the natives then killed the creature. As William Gibbons writes:

“Pastor Thomas also mentioned that the two pygmies mimicked the cry of the animal as it was being attacked and speared… Later, a victory feast was held, during which parts of the animal were cooked and eaten. However, those who participated in the feast eventually died, either from food poisoning or from natural causes.”

Final words

While there are several theories surrounding the elusive monster Mokele-mbembe, its physical description remains mostly consistent, considering various stories and times. So, do you think that, in this remote part of the world, a sauropod like mysterious creature supposedly lurks in the rivers and lagoons, protecting them from human encroachment?

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