Ethiopian Vampire

Unknown b at of East Africa. Variant name: Death bird. Physical description: Wingspan, 12—18 inches. Behavior: Said to feed on the blood of animals and humans, causing puncture wounds and debilitating sickness.

Distribution: Devil's Cave, somewhere near Nek'emte, in the Welega division of Ethiopia.

Significant sighting: In the 1930s, Byron de Prorok explored a cave said by the locals to be haunted by hyena-men and a death bird. The hyenas proved real enough, and so did the death birds, in the form of a huge swarm of bats. De Prorok noted that goatherds in the area looked very debilitated, and they blamed their condition on bites from these bats. Possible explanations:

(1) The only known sanguinivorous bats are found in Mexico, Central, and South America. Infected bites from parasites carried by the bats might be mistaken for bat bites.

(2) Fungal spores from guano or Leptospira bacteria causing Weil's syndrome, which produces liver and kidney problems, meningitis, and vomiting, could be mistakenly blamed on bat bites.

(3) African vampire legends might also exaggerate a normal bat's activities. Sources: Byron Khun de Prorok, Dead Men

Do Tell Tales (New York: Creative Age Press, 1942); Karl Shuker, "A Belfry of Crypto-Bats," Fortean Studies 1 (1994): 235-245.

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