Lukwata

Freshwater MoNSTERof East Africa.

Etymology: Ganda (Bantu) word. The prefix lu- can mean "giant." It is remotely possible that the name originated from the exclamation "Look [at] water!" spoken in imperfect English. Variant names: Lokwata, Luquata. Physical description: Length, 20-30 feet. Size of a small porpoise. Dark color. Round or ovoid head. Neck is 4 feet long.

Behavior: Aggressive. Swims with head and neck out of the water. Moves with vertical undulations. Causes whirlpools. Loud, bellowing voice. Attempts to seize fishermen in boats or canoes. Said to fight with crocodiles. Pieces of its body are prized as charms by the local natives.

Distribution: Lake Victoria and tributary rivers in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.

Significant sightings: W. Grant, provincial governor at Jinja, Uganda, once saw from a distance an animal swimming with its head out of the water in the Napoleon Gulf, Lake Victoria.

Sir Clement Hill observed a large, long-necked animal with a dark, roundish head off Homa Mountain, Lake Victoria, Kenya, around 1900. Hill insisted it was not a crocodile.

In the 1930s, E. G. Wayland, director of the Geological Survey of Uganda, was shown a fragment of bone that belonged to a Lukwata. Wayland stated he had heard the animal's bellowing roars.

In late 1959, T. E. Cox and his wife saw a large, black animal among some reeds near the shore of Mohoru Bay, Lake Victoria, Kenya. It was 20-30 feet long and had a thick body with two humps on its back, a thin neck, and a snakelike head. It swam with vertical undulations toward the center of the lake after noticing their presence.

Possible explanations:

(1) An unknown species of large Catfish (Family Siluridae), based on its barbels.

(2) An African rock python (Python sebae), suggested by Hector Duff.

(3) A freshwater Longneck similar to NESSIE, suggested by Bernard Heuvelmans and based on the Cox sighting.

Sources: Harry Johnston, The Uganda Protectorate (London: Hutchinson, 1902), vol. 1, pp. 79-80; C. W. Hobley, "On Some Unidentified Beasts," Journal of the East Africa and Uganda Natural History Society, no. 6 (1913): 48-52; Hector L. Duff, African Small Chop (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1932), pp. 158-164; Stella and Edgar B. Worthington, The Inland Waters ofAfrica (London: Macmillan, 1933), pp. 126-127; William Hichens, "African Mystery Beasts," Discovery 18 (1937): 369-373; Henry Hesketh J. Bell, Witches and Fishes (London: Edward Arnold, 1948), pp. 156-159; Bernard Heuvelmans, Les derniers dragons d'Afique (Paris: Plon, 1978), pp. 165-172, 176-177, 299, 306-307, 370-371.

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