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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

LINDSAY SELBY: The Kikiyaon, real or imaginary?

The Kikiyaon is a cryptid reported in the Gambia, Africa. It is said to resemble a man-sized owl. Described as having feathers and wings (some say a 20-foot/ 6.5 metres wingspan) with a large spur or spike on its shoulders, and clawed feet. Sometimes it is referred to as the soul cannibal or soul-eater. The creature smells like a rotting snake and has strange: cries either a deep-throated grunting or a scream like a man being strangled. It is a forest-dweller where it awaits its prey: man. It is deadly, being able to outrun a man, and swoops down to grab a person.

The description may also refer to the Sasabonsam, a sort of vampire similarly described in the local myths. Bernard Heuvelmans (1986) discussed a case of an Ashanti carving seen by J.B. Danquah. It depicted the Sasabonsam as human-faced with horns. It had two short arms and bat-like wings. A young man apparently told Danquah that a Sasabonsam had been killed by Agya Wuo, a local man in 1928. He described the creature as about 5 feet tall (1.8metres) with a 20-foot (6.5metres) wingspan, and said that it was spotted black and white. The body was taken to the home of the District Commissioner, L.W. Wood on February 22 1928 where it was photographed. However, when contacted Wood was not sure about taking a photograph and said he had been there in 1918, not 1928. Heuvelmans states that the Sasabonsam is probably a kongamato, a large bat reported in the area.

As these creatures are also said to appear in dreams and hallucinations and be conjured up by witches, it is difficult to know if there is any truth in the stories. Those who see it and live are supposed to die a lingering death from a strange illness; that’s if they don’t die of shock first. The creatures seem to be both real and ghost-like to the local people. The 'real' version could be a giant bat or bird as speculated by Heuvelmans, which may be rare or unknown. Pels fishing owl (Scotopelia peli) comes out at night to fish in slow-moving rivers, swooping down from the trees, and it is brown-spotted. Its cry has been described as sounding like "a lost soul falling down a bottomless pit.” This may account for some of the sounds heard that are said to be the Kikiyaon.

Heuvelmans, B. 1986. Annotated checklist of apparently unknown animals with which cryptozoology is concerned. Cryptozoology 5, 1-26.

1 comment:

Dale Drinnon said...

"Kongamato, a large bat reported in the area" would be a mistake, but I don't know whose mistake it was (Possibly Heuvelmans') Kongamato is a name used in East not West Africa and it is far from certain that it is a bat.In West Africa the reference is probably to the Giant bat Ivan Sanderson saw and which he understood to be called "Olitiau". Heuvelmans in turn said that name referred to the Devil of the Christian Missionaries as referred to by the natives.

For the most part these are Vampire stories and not really connected to any Cryptid sightings: the samne situation also occurs in the Philippines. We are not ordinarily talking *Sightings* so much in this case.

The Kikiyaon is most likely based on *Sightings* of Pel's fishing owel coupled with a very unhealthy legend. Heuvelmans does *Not* discuss the Cryptid on his Checklist. I do not personally consider it to be a Cryptid, either. There very likely is a large Ahool-like bat in Tropical Africa, including the one Sanderson saw, and probably similar ones in the Philippines as well, but these sorts of legends are useless to learn anything about the real animals. As to the Kongamato, I believe it to be something quite different which never should have been brought into the matter. It should be emphasized that the original descriptions of the Kongamato said it was an *Aquatic* animal.

Best Wishes, Dale D.