inside the inexperienced secluded forest kingdom of Ruwenzori (© Diego Tirira/Wikipedia –
CC BY-SA 2.0 licence)
Ruwenzori (aka Rwenzori and Rwenjura)
constitutes an East African mountain vary on the border of the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (previously Zaire) and Uganda. Under their peaks’ snowy
caps and alpine meadows, these mountains are coated in lush tropical
rainforests and are rightly deemed to be a biodiversity hotspot, with many
areas nonetheless solely sparsely explored scientifically. Not surprisingly,
subsequently, some attention-grabbing potential cryptids have been reported from
Ruwenzori, together with the three examples offered right here.
ABOUT A GIANT POTTO
A few of cryptozoology’s least-known thriller beasts
have usually lengthy been hiding in plain sight, no less than within the sense that they
have been documented in books or articles initially revealed a few years in the past
however which have by no means attracted cryptozoological consideration. Consequently,
at any time when doable I attempt to rectify this unhappy state of affairs by publicising these
cryptic cryptids as soon as I’ve learnt about them.
So right here is one more instance, kindly delivered to my
consideration on Fb by longstanding FB pal Richard Hing on 16 August 2023.
In his FB publish, Richard puzzled if anybody had ever
heard of a wierd creature reportedly present in Ruwenzori and briefly
referred to by BBC wildlife film-maker/writer Michael Vivid in a BBC Wildlife Journal article from
November 1987 in regards to the fauna of those infamously impenetrable, inaccessible
Michael had been writing about how fascinated by the
Ruwenzoris and their pure historical past was Pelham Aldrich-Blake, producer of the
famend TV collection The Pure World
and a longstanding lover of mountain-climbing, and whereas itemizing the varied
creatures present right here Michael included the next quick however very
Pelham additionally mentions the occasional
solitary leopard and a creature that most individuals think about extra legendary than
reality – the 1.5m [5-ft]-long big Ruwenzori potto, which shares the scientific
twilight with Nessie and the yeti. It’s described within the [local native]
tales as merely an enormous model of the well-known big-eyed primate and is
presupposed to glower at intruders from the branches of 10m-tall big heathers.
19th-Century illustration of the frequent or West African potto Perodicticus potto (public area)
Pottos are associated to and considerably resemble the extra
acquainted lorises of Asia, particularly the gradual lorises. For a few years, solely a
single geographically-widespread potto species, Perodicticus potto, was recognised, inhabiting West Africa, Central
Africa, and East Africa, however in newer instances this species has been divided
taxonomically into three separate ones, based mostly on genetic analyses revealed in
2015 indicating that they cut up from each other in evolutionary phrases as lengthy
in the past because the Miocene Epoch (23-5.3 million years in the past).
These at the moment are, respectively, the frequent or West
African potto P. potto, the Central
African potto P. edwarsi, and the
East African potto P. ibeanus. (There
can be the mysterious false potto Pseudopotto
martini, represented solely by skeletal stays from two specimens of
unsure provenance and unknown exterior look, however which can merely be
aberrant specimens of P. potto.)
Nonetheless, they’re all nonetheless united by one very
noticeable shared characteristic – none of them exceeds round 50 cm [20 in] (together with
its quick tail) in complete size, i.e. solely a 3rd the alleged size of the
aptly-dubbed big Ruwenzori potto. Consequently, assuming that the latter
actually does exist, and actually is 1.5 m (i.e. 150 cm) [5 ft] lengthy, it appears
affordable to take a position that this exceptionally giant variation on the potto
theme does certainly symbolize a taxonomically discrete type nonetheless awaiting scientific
recognition and naming. By the way, if anybody has extra data
regarding it, I might like to obtain particulars!
Neither is this big potto the one obscure
cryptozoological curiosity on report from the Ruwenzoris.
MOON BIRDS OF RUWENZORI
Two completely separate experiences of very giant however
still-unidentified black birds have additionally been chronicled from these lofty
peaks, popularly and poetically dubbed the Mountains of the Moon as a result of they
have been historically believed to be the real-life id of the mysterious legendary
mountains given this romantic title by historic Greek and Roman geographers who
believed that they comprised the long-hidden supply of the River Nile.
The primary ‘moon fowl’ report, documented by John
Preston in his Ruwenzoris travelogue Touching
The Moon, is that of that of the native information accompanying explorer Stephen
Bagge throughout his Ruwenzori ascent in 1898.
Bagge reached an altitude of 9,000 ft, however his information
climbed a bit of increased, alone, reaching Lake Bujuku, south of Mount Speke.
In accordance with this information, he noticed on its shores plenty of all-black birds as
giant as sheep, which uttered an alarm name resembling the bellow of a bull
when he tried to method them, which scared him away. In 1906, conversely, a
very intensive Ruwenzoris expedition led by Italian explorer the Duke of
Abruzzi didn’t report encountering any such birds there.
Nevertheless, in his 1957 e book Animal Africa, Canadian mountaineer Earl Denman recalled that whereas
climbing the Ruwenzoris a number of years earlier, he had watched a few very
giant unidentifiable black birds diving swiftly and virtually vertically by means of
the excessive mountain air. Had been these of the identical thriller species as people who
Bagge’s information had seen, or one thing totally different once more?
Verreaux’s eagle, painted by René Primevère Lesson, 1830 (public
Cryptozoological writer George Eberhart has
speculated that Denman’s birds could have been a pair of Verreaux’s eagles Aquila verreauxii – a putting species that
is certainly native to the highlands of East Africa, has predominantly black
plumage, a really spectacular wingspan of as much as 8 ft, and an especially dramatic
aerial courtship show that options spectacular vertical dives.
Consequently, I believe this a believable id for
Denman’s birds, however Bagge’s stay way more mystifying.
In any case, it appears unlikely that plenty of eagles
would all congregate collectively across the shores of a lake, and utter a
bull-like sound when approached. To me, such behaviour is way more indicative
of birds resembling cranes, herons, storks, and even bustards, however I am not conscious of
any recognized species that corresponds each morphologically and zoogeographically
with Bagge’s birds.
And so, over a century later, these stay as
enigmatic now as they have been again in 1896. As soon as once more, any more information would
be very welcome!
bustard Ardeotis kori, Africa’s
largest flying fowl (solely the flightless ostrich is bigger), standing 5 ft tall
and weighing 24-42 lb within the grownup male (females are solely half this dimension), however
not native to Ruwenzori (© Haplochromis/Wikipedia – CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)