Ntarargo

Spotted Lion of East Africa.

Etymology: Possibly Amba (Bantu); singular, Ruturargo.

Variant names: Enturargo, Kiiseego, Kitalargo (contraction of kitalo-engo, "wonder leopard"), Ntarago, Ntarargar, Uruturangwe.

Physical description: Like a cross between a lion and a leopard. Slightly spotted coat like a hyena's. Retractile claws. Long tail.

Behavior: Has a distinctly gutteral, gurgling roar; it gives a few deep grunts followed rapidly by high-pitched shrieks.

Distribution: Ruwenzori Range, Uganda.

Significant sightings: In 1916, a mystery animal is said to have killed 100 people in Kinkizi County, Uganda. it ignored goats and sheep and went after the children of the herders.

A local district commissioner heard a hideous howl when he was camped on a scarp above the eastern shores of Lakes Edward and George, Uganda. it terrified his porters, who said it was the cry of the man- and cattle-killing Ntarargo. Possible explanations:

(1) An old or exceptionally large Leopard (Panthera pardus). Pseudomelanistic leopards may account for observations of some mystery beasts with a dark coat. See Dark Leopard.

(2) Skins and bones of the Ruturargo sent to London from the Kigezi District in the 1920s usually turned out to be from Spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). In one instance, the skin of a particularly large hyena was accompanied by the skull of an immense leopard, purportedly from the same animal. However, confusion seems to have resulted from the killing of two "Enturargo" during the same hunt—one a hyena, the other a leopard.

Sources: Charles R. S. Pitman, A Game Warden among His Charges (London: Nisbet, 1931), pp. 302-306; Eric A. Temple-Perkins, Kingdom of the Elephant (London: A. Melrose, 1955), pp. 228-233.

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