Sunday, February 9, 2014

Post Revamp: the Mngwa

Recently, I've been on a streak of African crypto-revamps.  For now, this will be my last post in that series; you'll get something very different tomorrow!  But today, I bring you the Mngwa -- a rare man-eating cryptid like the Nandi Bear.  Like many African cryptids, this monster is an enormous cat.  Its size is variable in description -- some say it's smaller than a donkey; others say it's larger than a lion.  But all sources agree on this:  the Mngwa has striped grey fur, and it's extremely deadly.

Sightings of the Mngwa date back 900 years -- it appears in African folklore, where it's described alongside the leopard and the lion.  Clearly, the native tribes view it as a distinct species; something unlike any other cat.  It certainly doesn't sound like any species we know of.  Lions have manes, and are never grey in color.  Cheetahs are tiny compared to the mngwa.  Leopards are spotted, not striped -- and again, they're not grey.  If the Mngwa exists, it may be a completely unique animal.

That is, if it exists at all.  Many believe it doesn't, and that this cryptid is completely folkloric.  One such skeptic was William Hichens, a British magistrate in colonial Tanzania.  He first heard stories of the Mngwa in the 1920s -- and paid them no heed whatsoever.  Until, that is, several citizens of his town were reportedly slaughtered by the beast.  One of their corpses was clutching a grey tuft of hair -- confirmed by scientists to belong to a cat.

Do we have any good theories about the Mngwa's identity?  Unfortunately, no.  Among the big cats, our best suspect is the leopard -- which has pawprints of similar shape.  Bernard Heuvelmans, the father of cryptozoology, proposed that the Mngwa was a giant relative of the African golden cat.  This is an odd theory, as that species is very small -- but it would explain quite a lot.  For one thing, the Mngwa is said to purr instead of roaring.  For another, golden cats can actually be gray in color.  Perhaps Heuvelmans was right -- the feared Mngwa's only relative may be tabby-sized.

Read more about the Mngwa:
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