The Dingonek, West Africa’s “Jungle Walrus”
By Sara Fawley
9 to 18 feet long, covered in scales with a scorpion-like tail filled with deadly poison the Dingonek is one of the more fearsome cryptids. Also known as the “Jungle Walrus” due to the huge canines protruding from it’s mouth that is in a square head with a large horn protruding from the center of it. This semi-aquatic creature is said to inhabit the creeks, rivers and lakes of Western Africa primarily in the area that was formerly known as Zaire. This creature is said to be extremely vicious and territorial. It is claimed that it hunts crocodiles, hippos, monkeys, humans or basically anything that ventures into it’s territory.
The most noted sighting of the creature was in 1907 by explorer John Alfred Jordan who is said to have shot at but not killed the creature in the River Maggori in Kenya. The story goes that Jordan was hunting along the shores of the river with native Lumbwa guides. His guides came and told him they had just seen a Dingonek in the river and took him to the location. The natives described it at a cross between a sea serpent, a whale and a leopard. Jordan described it as being 14 to 15 feet long with a head as big as a lioness but shaped and marked like a leopard, two long white fangs sticking straight down from it’s up jaw, back as broad as a hippo and scaled like an armadillo. He also stated that it had reptilian like claws. Being frightened, Jordan shot the creature behind one of it’s ears. The beast sprang up out of the water, standing up on it’s tail. Jordan and the Lumbwa ran in fear for their lives.
Jordan’s story was recounted in a book by Edgar Bronson in 1910. There are many word of mouth tales that have been passed down for generations among the natives of Western Africa and to this day there are claims of sightings. If it were just the stories this would be easy to put in the category of myth or wives tale except there is one curious side note. In a cave at Brackfontein Ridge in South Africa there is said to be a painting of an unknown creature that fits the description of the Dingonek to a tee right down to the walrus like tusks.
So is Dingonek a real creature or just a myth passed down through local native tribes to keep the children away from the river banks? Is it a mis-identification of a known creature? Is it several myths and legends put together? Since there has not really been any investigation into the creature that I have found we cannot be sure. One thing is for certain, the locals of the region believe.