Coje Ya Menia

wàter Lion of Central Africa.

Etymology: Mbundu-Loanda (Bantu), "water lion."

Physical description: Slightly smaller than a hippopotamus. Has tusks or large canine teeth.

Behavior: Nocturnal. Amphibious. Moves to smaller rivers and swamps during the rainy season. Makes a loud, rumbling roar. Kills hippopotamuses but does not eat them.

Tracks: Like an elephant's but with toes overprinted on the impression of the sole.

Habitat: Rivers and swamps.

Distribution: Upper Cuango and Cuanza Rivers, Angola, and smaller tributaries.

Significant sighting: In the 1930s, a Portuguese truck driver heard that a Coje ya menia had killed a hippopotamus along the Cuango River the night before. He went off with some trackers and for several hours followed the trail of the hippo and another smaller animal. They found the dead, uneaten hippo ripped to shreds in an area where the grass and shrubs had been crushed down.

Possible explanations:

(1) A surviving aquatic saber-toothed cat, first suggested by Ingo Krumbiegel in 1947.

(2) An unknown monitor lizard.

(3) A surviving dinosaur of some type.

Sources: Ilse von Nolde, "Der Coje ya menia:

Ein sagenhaftes Tier Westafrikas," Deutsche Kolonialzeitung 51, no. 4 (1939): 123-124;

coje ya menia 111

Ingo Krumbiegel, "Was ist der 'Lowe des Wassers'?" Kosmos 42 (1947): 143-146; Martin Wilfarth, "Leben heute noch Saurier?" Prisma, October 1949, pp. 279-282; Bernard Heuvelmans, Les derniers dragons d'Afrique (Paris: Plon, 1978), pp. 239-241, 319-323, 326, 329.

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