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Dingonek

A fanciful reconstruction of the dingonek.

Country reported: Kenya

The dingonek was a cryptid reported from Kenya once in 1907.[1] Bernard Heuvelmans classified it with the water lions seen elsewhere in Africa.[2]

Description

The dingonek was described by Jordan as being around 15 feet long, covered in scales like a pangolin, but also spotted like a leopard. Its head is like that of an otter or a lioness, with two straight, white tusks in the upper jaw, and short ears. Its neck and legs are short and it has a broad, hippopotamus-like back, and a long, broad, finned tail. Its feet are large and clawed.[1]

Sightings

1907

Big game hunter John Alfred Jordan took a shot at this animal on the Migori River in 1907. He fired on it with a .303, prompting it to sprint at him. He also found clawed tracks the size of a hippo's. Jordan compared the animal to the lukwata[1], and, in a story confirmed by his carriers, described his encounter to Edgar Beecher Bronson:[3]

"[...] we were on the march approaching the Maggori, and I had stayed back with the porters and sheep and had sent the Lumbwa ahead to look for a drift we could cross—river was up and booming and chances poor. Presently I heard the bush smashing and up raced my Lumbwa, wide-eyed and gray as their black skins could get, with the yarn that they had seen a frightful strange beast on the river bank, which at sight of them had plunged into the water—as they described it, some sort of cross between a sea serpent, a leopard, and a whale. Thinking they had gone crazy or were pulling my leg, I told them I'd believe them if they could show me, but not before. After a long shauri [palaver] among themselves, back they finally ventured, returning in half an hour to say that IT lay full length exposed on the water in midstream.
"Down to the Maggori I hurried, and there their 'bounder' lay, right-oh!
"Holy saints, but he was a sight—fourteen or fifteen feet long, head big as that of a lioness but shaped and marked like a leopard, two long white fangs sticking down straight out of his upper jaw, back broad as a hippo, scaled like an armadillo, but colored and marked like a leopard, and a broad fin tail, with slow, lazy swishes of which he was easily holding himself level in the swift current, headed up stream.
"Gad! but he was a hideous old haunter of a nightmare, was that beast-fish, that made you want an aeroplane to feel safe of him; for while he lay up stream of me, I had been brought down to the river bank precisely where he had taken water, and there all about me in the soft mud and loam were the imprints of feet wide of diameter as a hippo's but clawed like a reptile's, feet you knew could carry him ashore and claws you could be bally well sure no man could ever get loose from once they had nipped him.
"Blast that blighter's fangs, but they looked long enough to go clean through a man.
"He had not seen or heard me, and how long I stood and watched him I don't know. Anyway, when I began to fear he would shift or turn and see me, I gave him a .303 hard-nose behind his leopard ear—and then hell split for fair!
"Straight up out of the water he sprang, straight as if standing on his blooming tail—must have jumped off it, I fancy.
"Me? Well, I never quit sprinting until I was atop of the bank and deep in the bush—fancier burst of speed than any wounded bull elephant ever got out of me, my word for that!
"That was one time when my presence of mind didn't succeed in getting away with me from the starting post, and when, finally, it overtook me, and I bunched nerve enough to stop and listen, the bush ahead of me was still smashing with flying Lumbwa, but all was silent astern.
"His legs? What were they like? Blest if I know! The same second that he stood up on his tail, I got too busy with my own legs to study his.
"Gory wonder, was that fellow; a .303, where placed, should have killed anything, for he was less than ten yards from me when I shot, but though we watched waters and shores over a range of several miles for two days, no sight did we get of him or his tracks."

At around the same time, a man on the Mara river near the Kenya-Tanzanian border saw a large animal floating on a log. It was spotted like a leopard, covered in scales, and had a head like an otter. He estimated that it was around 16 feet long, although the tail was in the water. He did not report the fangs seen by Jordan. He shot the animal, which slid off the log and was not seen again.[4]

Theories

Jordan and others at the time regarded the animal as reptilian, perhaps a marine reptile or a dinosaur, but Bernard Heuvelmans later speculated that it was a surviving sabre-toothed cat, with the scales being explained by clumps of wet, shiny, matted fur.[1]

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Eberhart, George (2002) Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology
  2. Heuvelmans, Bernard (1978) Les derniers dragons d'Afrique
  3. Bronson, Edgar Beecher (1910) Closed Territory
  4. Hobley, C. W. "On Some Unidentified Beasts", Journal of the East Africa and Uganda Natural History Society 6 (1913)