Mamlambo

Freshwater Monster of South Africa.

Etymology: From the Xhosa (Bantu) umam-lambo, the name for a mythical river goddess or Merbeing who brings riches and whose true form is a snake.

Physical description: Length, 66 feet. Head is like a snake's or horse's. Eyes glow green at night. Crocodilian body. Short, stumpy legs.

Behavior: Said to kill people and suck out their blood and brains.

Distribution: Mzintlava River, near Mount Ayliff, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.

Significant sighting: Eyewitnesses reported a "half-fish, half-horse" monster in the Mzintlava River that was held responsible for nine deaths in the first months of 1997. Possible explanations:

(1) The alleged Mamlambo victims probably just drowned.

(2) The Electric catfish (Malapterurus electricus) attains a length of 5 feet and can deliver stunning or fatal shocks.

Sources: "Nature Conservation Called to Hunt East Cape 'Monster,'" Johannesburg Star, April 30, 1997; "Mamlambo on the Loose," Cape Argus, May 17, 1997; Ben S. Roesch, "Mamlambo: A 'Man-Eating' Reptile?" Cryptozoology Review 2, no. 1 (1997): 9-10; John Kirk, In the Domain ofLake Monsters (Toronto, Canada: Key Porter Books, 1998), pp. 259-260; Brian Siegel, "Water Spirits and Mermaids: The Copperbelt Case," paper presented at the Southeastern Regional Seminar in African Studies (SERSAS), April 14-15, 2000, Cullowhee, N.C., on line at http:// www.ecu.edu/african/sersas/Siegel400.htm.

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