Picture of Mokele-Mbembe (Artist's Impression)

Mokele-Mbembe – Congo River Basin (Central Africa)

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The Mokele-Mbembe, Mokèlé-Mbémbe, or Li’kela-Bembe in the Baka language, is a legendary cryptid that is said to live in the Congo River Basin of Central Africa. The name, Mokele-Mbembe, translates to “one who stops the flow of rivers“.

Cryptid Name:Mokele-Mbembe / Li’kela-Bembe
Location:Central Africa, primarily in the Congo Basin
Map of where the Mokele Mbembe is found
Category:Reptilian Cryptid
Description:Legendary herbivore cryptid with a small head, long neck, and tail resembling a sauropod dinosaur.
Size:Typically described as being as large as an elephant.
Behavior/Characteristics:Shy and elusive; said to inhabit remote areas.
Diet:Believed to be herbivorous, feeding on plants.
Habitat/Environment:Dense jungles, swamps, and rivers of the Congo Basin.
Evidence:No concrete scientific evidence; anecdotal reports.
Sightings and Encounters:Reports date back to the early 20th century.
Skepticism/Explanations:Some believe it is a living dinosaur, while others believe it is a more mundane creature, such as an unknown species of elephant or hippopotamus. Still others believe that the mokele-mbembe is a myth or a legend.

What Does The Mokele-Mbembe Look Like?

Picture of Mokele-Mbembe (Artist's Impression)
Artist’s Impression of the Mokele-Mbembe

The Mokele-Mbembe is described as being a large creature typically about the size of an elephant or larger. It has a very bulky, reptilian, or dinosaur-like body with a long neck that is similar to sauropod dinosaurs like the Brachiosaurus or Apatosaurus.

It has a small head in relation to the size of its body with a long tail and leathery skin. Depending on the reports, it is described as being either gray, brown, or green in color.

The Legend Of The Mokele-Mbembe

The earliest legends of the Mokele-Mbembe begin in the heart of central Africa where stories are told of a fierce war that was raging in the rainforests. The legend tells of a small band of pygmies who were fleeing the fighting and came to a fast-flowing river that was too dangerous to cross. As they debated what to do, a huge creature rose out of the water. It created a living bridge for the men that spanned the river from shore to shore using its long tail, back, and stretched-out neck. The men managed to scramble across the creature’s body to safety on the other side of the river.

Legends and stories of the Mokele-Mbembe say that it is a peaceful creature but locals are still incredibly weary of it and will avoid fishing if they believe it is in the area. That said, the Mokele-Mbembe is a very shy and elusive cryptid that does its best to avoid humans.

Interviews With Locals About Mokele-Mbembe Sightings

How Is Mokele-Mbembe Pronounced?

Mokele-mbembe is pronounced, as follows: “Mo-keh-leh Mmm-bem-beh”.

Mokele-Mbembe Sightings & Evidence

There have been many eye-witness sightings of the Mokele-Mbembe over the years with the majority of these being in the Likouala Swamp area which covers about 55 square miles / 140,000 square kilometers. In fact, there is no doubt in the minds of the people who live in the area that the creature is just as real as an elephant or crocodile.

In the early 1980s, a cryptozoologist by the name of Roy Mackal led two expeditions to the area to investigate the eye-witness reports but no scientific evidence was found to prove the existence of the cryptid. He did however note that should an ancient dinosaur still exist in the world today, this area would be the perfect place.

Again, I should emphasize that the Likouala region has remained relatively unchanged since the Cretaceous Period. No mountain formation or extensive inundation has occured and the climate habe been stable for millions of years. It is ideally suited for the survival of a relict species.

Dr. Roy Mackal

There are however a lot of anecdotal reports that many claim prove that the Mokele-Mbembe does exist. These include a few claw-shaped footprints which were first discovered in 1776, fuzzy photos and video, sound recordings, and of course, the eye-witness reports themselves.

Mokele-Mbembe Video And Audio Evidence

Over the years, there has been a fair amount of video and audio evidence that has been found that people claim is proof that the Mokele-Mbembe is real. Here are a couple of the more reliable ones I could find.

1992 Japanese Expedition Video Footage

In 1992 a group of Japanese cryptozoologists travelled to remote areas of the Congo River basin and they managed to capture the following video footage of the Mokele-Mbebme in a river.

Mokele-Mbembe Audio Recording

This is a recording that is believed to be from the Mokele-Mbembe. It is however an edited recording with much of the background noise removed.

Possible Explanations

There are many skeptics when it comes to the legend and eyewitness sightings of the Mokele-Mbembe. Most speculate that sightings are simply misidentifications of known animals such as elephants, hippopotamus, or even monitor lizards. For example, in the 1992 Japanese expedition footage above, many speculate that the animal in the video could be an elephant swimming through the water with its trunk being held above the water.

However, many people believe that the Mokele-Mbembe could be a real creature that hasn’t been identified by science as yet while others say that it is an ancient dinosaur that has survived through the centuries. If this is the case, then the most likely dinosaurs that fit the description of the Mokele-Mbembe are Sauropods, and more specifically, Brachiosaurus or Apatosaurus dinosaurs.

Brachiosaurus Picture
Image of a Brachiosaurus
Source: Dmitry Bogdanov

In 2018, a new species of dinosaur was discovered in South Africa, the home to the Cradle of Humankind. The Ledumahadi Mafube was an enormous herbivorous dinosaur that is thought to have been the biggest dinosaur that lived at the time with it standing about 4 meters / 13 feet high at the hips.

Ledumahadi Mafube dinosaur discovered in South Africa – A relative of the Mkole-Mbembe?

What is notable about the Ledumahadi Mafube is that its description is very similar to the descriptions given for the Mokele-Mbembe. Could the Mokele-Mbembe perhaps be an ancient relative of this species still living in Central Africa?

Image of the Ledumahadi Mafube
Source: Nobu Tamura

Other Cryptids In Africa


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