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Kongamato is a legendary creature that has intrigued explorers and locals in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa for decades. The name Kongamato means “breaker of boats” or “overturner of boats,” as the creature is said to have attacked boats and canoes in the rivers and swamps of Western Zambia, Angola, and Congo. It is often described as a giant flying reptile resembling a pterosaur.

The Kongamato was first described in English by explorer Frank Welland in his 1932 book “In Witchbound Africa.” According to Welland, the creature had a wingspan of 4 to 7 feet and a long, pointed beak filled with sharp teeth. Welland’s account of the Kongamato was met with skepticism by the scientific community, but sightings of the creature have continued to this day.

Despite the lack of scientific evidence, many people in Africa believe in the existence of the Kongamato and consider it a part of their folklore. The creature has also captured the imagination of cryptozoologists and adventurers, who continue to search for evidence of its existence.

Origins of the Kongamato

African Folklore

The Kongamato is a mythical creature that originated from African folklore, particularly among the people of Zambia and surrounding areas. The word “Kongamato” translates to “breaker of boats” or “overwhelmer of boats,” referencing the creature’s reputation for attacking river travelers. According to local legends, the Kongamato is a large, bat-like creature with leathery wings and a long-toothed beak. Some tribes believe that the creature is a supernatural being, while others view it as a natural-world beast that deserves respect and fear.

Western Discovery

The Kongamato first received widespread attention when explorer Frank Welland described it in his 1932 book “In Witchbound Africa”. Welland described the Kongamato as a large, reddish creature with leathery wings, devoid of feathers. Since then, numerous expeditions have been launched to try and find evidence of the creature’s existence. However, there has been no concrete evidence to support the existence of the Kongamato. Despite this, the legend of the Kongamato continues to fascinate people and inspire new stories and theories about its origin and nature.

Physical Description

Wings and Flight

Kongamato is a legendary creature that is believed to be a flying reptile resembling a pterosaur. Its wings are described as tough, leathery, and reddish skin stretched tight like a membrane over the bony structures of its arms. The creature is believed to possess membranous wings that allow it to fly with ease. It is also said to have sharp beaks, which it uses to catch its prey.

Size and Color

The Kongamato’s body is said to be 2ft 6 inches to 4 feet 6 inches long. Its wingspan is believed to be between 3 to 7 feet. The creature is commonly depicted as a large creature with leathery wings similar to those of a bat. Its appearance is a blend of reptilian and avian features, giving it a unique and fearsome form. The Kongamato’s color is reddish-blackish, which makes it stand out in its natural habitat.

Comparisons with Pterosaurs

The Kongamato is often compared to pterosaurs, which were flying reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic era. However, the Kongamato is said to be much larger than any known pterosaur. The creature is also believed to possess a wingspan of up to 30 feet, which is much larger than any known pterosaur. Despite the similarities, there is no scientific evidence to support the existence of the Kongamato.

Cultural Significance

Tribal Beliefs

Kongamato holds significant cultural importance in African folklore. The creature is believed to be a cryptid that resides in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, particularly in Zambia, the Congo, and Angola. The name Kongamato means “breaker of boats” or “overturner of boats,” as it is said to have capsized canoes of natives and attacked people who ventured too close to the nearby rivers.

In tribal beliefs, Kongamato is often viewed as a cautionary tale, warning people to be wary of venturing into unfamiliar territories or waters and respecting the natural world. The creature is also said to have supernatural powers, including the ability to control the weather and cause floods.

Modern Interpretations

In modern times, Kongamato has been interpreted in various ways, including as a prehistoric pterosaur that has survived to the present day or as a misidentified bird or bat. The creature has been featured in various books, films, and TV shows, often portrayed as a menacing and dangerous creature.

Despite modern interpretations, Kongamato remains an important part of African folklore and continues to captivate the imagination of people around the world.

Sightings and Reports

Early 20th Century Accounts

The first recorded sighting of the Kongamato was in 1923 by Frank Welland, a British explorer, during his expedition to Africa. He described the creature as a large, flying reptile with leathery wings and a long beak. Welland’s account was followed by other reports from explorers and locals, who claimed to have seen the creature flying over the swamps and rivers of the region.

Contemporary Encounters

In recent years, there have been several reported sightings of the Kongamato. In 2015, a family in Ohio claimed to have seen a winged creature resembling the Kongamato in their backyard. The creature reportedly had leathery wings and a long beak, and was seen flying over their house. Another sighting was reported in Zambia in 2018, where a group of tourists claimed to have seen a large flying reptile near the Zambezi River.

Despite the numerous sightings, there is no concrete evidence of the existence of the Kongamato. Some experts suggest that the creature may be a misidentified bird or bat species, while others believe it to be a surviving pterosaur from the Mesozoic era. The mystery of the Kongamato continues to fascinate cryptozoologists and adventurers alike, and the search for this elusive creature continues.

In Popular Media


Kongamato, the legendary creature, has been featured in various books and novels. One such book is “The Secret of the Unicorn Queen” by Josepha Sherman and Gwen Hansen. In the book, Kongamato is depicted as a giant flying reptile that terrorizes the characters. Another book that features Kongamato is “The Cryptid Files: Loch Ness” by Jean Flitcroft. The book describes the creature as a winged reptile that is often sighted in the African wilderness.

Film and Television

Kongamato has also made appearances in various films and television shows. In the movie “The Legend of Hell House,” Kongamato is briefly mentioned as a creature that haunts the titular house. In the television show “Destination Truth,” the host, Josh Gates, travels to Zambia to investigate claims of Kongamato sightings. The episode features interviews with locals who claim to have seen the creature and explores the possibility of its existence.

Overall, Kongamato has been a popular subject in popular media, with its mysterious and intriguing nature capturing the imagination of many.

Skeptical Analysis

Scientific Explanations

There is no scientific evidence that supports the existence of Kongamato. It is often suggested that the creature could be a surviving pterosaur, but this theory lacks any credible evidence and has been dismissed by mainstream science. According to scientists, pterosaurs went extinct around 66 million years ago, and there is no fossil evidence to suggest that they survived beyond this period.

Furthermore, the physical description of Kongamato does not match any known species of bird or reptile. Its alleged ability to attack boats and prey on humans is also inconsistent with the behavior of any known animal.


Many skeptics argue that sightings of Kongamato could be misidentifications of known birds or other large flying creatures. For example, the Marabou stork, a large bird found in Africa, has a wingspan of up to 3.7 meters and could be mistaken for a pterosaur or Kongamato.

Additionally, eyewitness accounts of Kongamato are often inconsistent and lack any concrete evidence. Many sightings are based on hearsay or second-hand accounts, making it difficult to verify the authenticity of these claims.

In conclusion, while the legend of Kongamato may be fascinating, there is no credible evidence to support its existence. The creature’s alleged abilities and physical characteristics are inconsistent with known species, and eyewitness accounts are often unreliable.

Impact on Cryptozoology

Kongamato has been a subject of interest for cryptozoologists for several decades. The creature’s description, as a flying reptile resembling a pterosaur, has led many to believe that it could be a living dinosaur. The sightings of Kongamato have sparked debates among cryptozoologists, with some arguing that the creature is a relic of the past, while others believe that it could be a new species altogether.

The interest in Kongamato has led to several expeditions to Africa, where the creature is believed to reside. Biologist Roy Mackal led an expedition to Namibia in 1988, where reports of a creature with a wingspan of up to 30 feet were gathered. Mackal was the Scientific Director of the Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau between 1965 and 1975 and a vice-president of the International Society of Cryptozoology.

The sightings of Kongamato have also led to the creation of several documentaries and television shows. In 2010, the Animal Planet aired a documentary titled “Kongamato: Flying Dinosaur or Urban Legend?” The documentary explored the sightings of Kongamato and the theories surrounding the creature.

Despite the interest in Kongamato, no concrete evidence has been found to prove the creature’s existence. However, the sightings and the interest in the creature have led to further research and exploration of the African wilderness, which could lead to the discovery of new species.