A little of this and a little of that…
The Dingonek, also called the ol-umaina, is a large, reptilian, semi-aquatic beast made famous by an alleged 1907 encounter with big game hunter, John Jordan, near Lake Victoria in Kenya.
Reported to dwell in the rivers and lakes of Western Africa, the Dingonek is a mish mash of animal characteristics with a head shaped like a leopard or otter, large horned like a rhinoceros, armored plating similar to that of a pangolin, a bony, poison secreting appendage on its tail and two large tusks protruding from its upper jaw, the latter earning it the nickname of the Jungle Walrus. While not all sightings are identical, most report the monster to be between 14 and 16 feet in length, broad bodied with short, hippopotamus-like legs and spotted, with a pattern similar to a leopard.
Rumored to patrol the rivers of Kenya and the Democratic Republic, the Dingonek is said to swim like a crocodile, using its powerful tail to propel it along with only its head visible above the water. It is further said to be carnivorous, ambushing whatever it wishes to devour and thrusting its long tusks into its quarry, which is said to include hippopotamus and even the occasional human. The only thing not on the Dingonek menu – elephants.
Stranger in a Strange Land?
While Dingonek descriptions might sound a bit over the top, it is important to note that the first reports of this monster came from late 19th and early 20th century European explorers who were true strangers in the African jungles and encountering a plethora of exotic creatures. On top of this, they relied heavily on reports from local tribes and were not familiar with their mythology or the concept of spirit animals. Many explorers may have had an extra incentive to exaggerate their adventures in an effort to secure funding from wealthy donors back home.