Dilali

water Lion of Central Africa.

Etymology: Gbaya-Bossangoa (Ubangi), "water lion."

Variant names: Dilai', Mama hime, Mamaime (Zande/Ubangi, "water lion").

Physical description: Length, 5 feet. Shoulder height, 3 feet. The size of a horse. Mane. Large tusks. Hairy legs. Claws like a lion's.

Behavior: Aquatic. Feeds on fish and leaves. Kills hippopotamuses and crocodiles but does not eat them. In Central African Republic, said to kill and eat humans.

Distribution: Southern Chad; Central African Republic.

Significant sighting: In 1912, Naumann of Ulm, a lieutenant in the German Imperial Defense Corps, offered a reward for the Dilali while he was stationed north of the Ouham River in Chad. He failed to find any evidence other than stories.

Possible explanations:

(1) The aquatic variety of the Pygmy Elep hant

(2) A surviving saber-toothed cat, suggested by Bernard Heuvelmans.

Sources: Ingo Krumbiegel, Von neuen und unentdeckten Tierarten (Stuttgart, Germany: Franckh'sche Verlagshandlung, 1950), pp. 57—68; Bernard Heuvelmans, On the Track of Unknown Animals (New York: Hill and Wang, 1958), pp. 463-465, 468, 474; Robert Kirch, "Animaux inconnus en Afrique?" Connaissance de la Chasse, no. 60 (April 1981): 62-65, 92.

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