Described as looking like a Chinese dragon, the Ninki Nanka is a legendary beast said to prowl the creeks and mangrove swamps along the River Gambia in Western Africa. Rumored to only come out after dark, this reptilian beast is said to devour whatever (or, whomever?) it chooses. At an estimated 30 feet in length, it is easy to see why locals fear the ill-tempered beast, refusing to go into areas where it has recently been reported.

Ninki Nanka, which loosely translates to Dragon-Devil, has been described as possessing supernatural powers, with those who have seen the creature and survived being advised to not speak of the encounter lest they suffer an untimely death. According to local tradition, the only way to stop one of these beasts is with… a mirror?? Yes – the sight of its own reflection is alleged to be the only way to kill a Ninki Nanka… Believe it or not!

Like the Komodo dragon, also once considered a cryptid, the Ninki Nanka is thought by some cryptozoologists to be an unknown species of colossal monitor lizard. This possibility was once cited by British cryptozoologist Richard Freeman, who led a 2006 Centre for Fortean Zoology expedition into the region to search for the beast. While ultimately unsuccessful in proving the existence of the creature, the group was able to interview locals and collect numerous eye-witness accounts.

While the search for definitive proof of the Ninki Nanka goes on, expeditions like Freeman’s have provided a much needed boost to the local economy. While this may flavor the testimony of some of the witnesses, there is little doubt the small villages in the region have benefited from the quest to uncover their most famous resident!

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For more on Mr. Freeman and the Centre for Fortean Zoology expedition, visit –


Ninki Nanka