It is said to be the size of an elephant, ranging from thirty to seventy feet and dwells in the swamps and waters of the Congo in Africa. It makes a huge booming sound, its name means the ‘stopper of waters’ and is well known to the natives that live in the regions. It has a long neck, sharp teeth, spines along its back and a head like a snake with four clawed feet and a massive tail. It is semi-aquatic, reddish brown in colour and terrifies anyone who encounters it. Its name is Mokele Mbembe and in 65,000 square miles of unexplored land, the search is on for what may be the last dinosaur.
Dinosaurs that have survived in the darkest depths of the jungles of Africa have long been the speculation of science fiction and fantasy from the pens of many an author, especially Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle. And yet, this region of the planet remains unexplored and as much a mystery today as it was back then.
While the scientific community scoffs at the idea that a dinosaur could possibly have survived, they forget the coelacanth was discovered alive and well and was part of the staple diet of the local fishermen. What makes the Mokele so attractive and vibrant is that the local natives who live on the land and use it to sustain their very life style all have talked about the creature for centuries. it is as real to them as dogs are to us.
Now remember that the gorilla and panda were all local native myths before they were discovered and now you can see them in the zoo. Many scientific teams have gone into the region to try and gather evidence of the beast. One method that was commonly used was to bring photos of various lizards and dinosaurs to show the people and in every occasion they all pointed to a dinosaur as the creature they lived in fear of. They identified a sauropod which was also one of the creatures seen in Jurassic park (left) which, if true, means that the scientific community’s understanding of both history and how the planet was formed over the years is wrong.
One believer, explorer Roy Mackal, a retired biologist, heard the story and checked the maps of the region and what he found astounded him. The maps claimed there was insufficient data to delineate the terrain which meant they had no idea what was there! He led two expeditions to the Likouala swamp region and rainforest of the Congo which is inhabited by several tribes, including pygmies. Mokele has been the subject of over 50 expeditions and the only evidence is casts of huge clawed footprints, a fuzzy photograph and numerous eye witness reports. Foliage too far up in trees has been stripped by something but no known animal is tall enough to reach them in such quantities. However, a Japanese film crew flying in a helicopter caught fifteen seconds of film that clearly shows a long necked creature swimming across a lake (see footage at bottom of the page). This for many is the equivalent of the Patterson Gimli Bigfoot film.
There is no doubt among anyone that has gone, that the natives know this monster intimately and are scared of it, taking affront at outsiders suggestions they are wrong. Logically there is no reason for these people to make up stories about an extinct creature due to the very fact they had no idea it was supposed to be dead according to the outside world. So where would the profit or purpose be in hoaxing? This thing is so big they cannot capture it. And none of them grew up with books of dinosaurs, so the first time they saw a picture was when expeditions arrived and showed it to them. Add to that, much of this area is VAST and impossible to navigate. They don’t call it deep and dark for nothing. This is a land that can swallow you and you will never be found, ever.
The footprints (left) have been proven not to be those of elephants or hippos so take all those out and what does that leave you with? Sherlock Holmes had the answer. In 2004, Peter Beech travelled to the region and found the prints that are the only hard evidence of the creature’s existence. They had three toes, a heel and was a foot in diameter and two and a half feet across. This was the foliage incident I talked about earlier which he discovered could not have been done by giraffes as they don’t live in that part of Africa. Even though the prints were tested by television programme Monsterquest, they still remain the best evidence. It was also reported that pygmies managed to kill one back in the sixties which has been documented.
So when you take all that evidence, the eye witnesses stories and the fact that the locals cannot identify a bear or a deer, but can tell you what a dinosaur looks like then you have to stop and listen. An expedition has even discovered deep caves that they believe are in fact hibernation and nesting caves for something bigger than anything they know of in the area. Unfortunately war and civil unrest in the region make new expeditions hard and dangerous which will leave the mystery unsolved.
But one day, maybe just one day, they will find the proof they need to show that not all the dinosaurs were killed off by the meteor. And that for me, makes their survival just that little bit magical.