Mokele-mbembe is a legendary creature said to inhabit the Congo river Basin, mainly in Lake Tele. It likes the deep water and according to folklore, it haunts river bends. Its name means “one who stops the flow of rivers”, and depending on the story, it has been described as a live creature or a spirit.
According to some, it has been portrayed as a sauropod, similar to the well known Brachiosaurus with a very long neck and tail and a small head. Other descriptions represent it resembling an elephant or rhinoceros. The color of the Mokele-mbembe is usually a grayish-brown.
In 2001, a Discovery Channel documentary on the Congo featured interviews with local tribe members who was shown a photograph of a rhinoceros. They recognized it and said it was the Mokele-mbembe. However, African rhinoceroses are not common in the Congo Basin.
There have been many expedition to search for the existence of this creature. But no distinct evidence has been found, only folklore, legend, and witness accounts have been noted. Photos, recordings, and a few plaster casts of footprints have been gathered in these expeditions, but they all remain inconclusive.
Along with the expeditions, there have been many movies, books, and TV shows featuring Mokele-mbembe.
The earliest reference that may be relevant, is a 1776 book about Abbe Lievain Bonaventure, which describes large footprints found in the region from a French missionary to the Congo River Basin.
In an expedition during the year of 1919 and 1920 by the Smithsonian Institution of Washington D. C. to gather plant and animal specimens for study. During the expedition, the guides found large footprints along a river bank and in a swamp mysterious roars were heard. These were said to be from no known animal.
National Geographic Channel’s Beast hunter, History Channel’s MonsterQuest, and SyFy Channel’s Destination Truth have all investigated the region but no evidence was found.
According to cryptozoologist Willy Ley, there is sufficient accounts to claim there is a large and dangerous creature living in rivers of Central Africa. However, insufficient evidence has been found to conclude what the creature might be.
Image Caption: What Mokele-mbembe may resemble. Credit: DiBgd/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)