Emela-Ntouka: Africa’s Killer of Elephants

Cryptomundo Exclusive

The Emela-ntouka has been an unknown animal of some confusion in Africa. A few chroniclers have felt it was merely another named cryptid representing the sightings of the Mokele-mbembe. But as revealed by an image seen here for the first time, it appears to be a beast unlike the saurapod-like Mokele-mbembe.

Emela N'Touka

Click on image for larger size

Copyright: Michel Ballot – Mokélé – Mbembé CAMEROUN 2004

On page 219 of one of my recent field guides, written with Patrick Huyghe, we noted, among several different kinds of alleged “dinosaurs” in Africa, “one animal is called by locals the emela ntouka, or ‘killer of elephants.’ The semi-aquatic Emela-ntouka is described as more rhinoceros-like than the Mokele-mbembe, with a single horn that protrudes from its head.”

In 1981, Dr. Roy Mackal while searching the Congo for the Mokele-mbembe, collected accounts of these Emela-ntouka. The natives in the northwest region of the Likoula swamp told him that this animal would gore elephants with its single horn. Mackal initially considered that Emela-ntouka might be a Centrosaurus (“pointed lizard”) of the Ceratopsian family (formerly the Monoclonius). But he also noted the pygmies did not report a neck frill, which he would have expected on a ceratopsian.

I have long speculated in writing, and wondered aloud if there might be an unknown new subspecies of aquatic rhinoceros in the Cameroon-Congo area, captured in the folklore of the Emela-ntouka.

Troubling in the identification has been the long tail seen on the Emela-ntouka. Rhinos have short tails. Disturbing to the ceratopsian school has been the lack of a neck frill, and the dubious survival of dinosaurs into modern times.

Now, in a Cryptomundo exclusive, I have obtained permission to publish French cryptozoologist Michel Ballot’s photograph of a wooden native representation of Emela-ntouka he discovered in Cameroon. This image is from his forthcoming 2006 book on his Mokele-mbembe expeditions.

Founder of the Cryptos Center, now replaced by the AFRC (association française de recherche cryptozoologique), Ballot is its secretary-general of exploration.

Ballot first came upon this Emela-ntouka sculpture in a zone of northern Cameroon, along the border with the Central African Republic. He located it at the time of his second search for indications of current or recent activity of a very large amphibious animal in the area. The French cryptozoologist has explored this region since the beginning of 2004, three times, in the hopes of finding links to the Mokele-mbembe activity in the Congo. His forthcoming book will overview his findings.

The sculpture is the first good three-dimensional native representation, as far as we know, ever seen in the West of the Emela-ntouka. Clearly shown is Emela-ntouka’s long tail and single horn in this unique piece of African art. But here too, you can see that there is no neck frill. What do appear to exist, and are graphically shown, are small, elephant-like ears, different than found on rhinoceros or allegedly on dinosaur.

This Emela-ntouka sculpture is a wonder to behold, with more new questions than answers, perhaps. Please share what you see from examining it.

Thanks to Michael Ballot for sharing this image, which he has strictly copyrighted due to his forthcoming book’s publication.

One Response

  1. Loren Coleman
    Loren Coleman January 22, 2006 at 7:08 am |

    Most people have a mental image of a rhinoceros as a dryland mammal because of the African savannah variety. But in general, there is much association between rhinos, water, and rivers. In Africa, the range of rhinos is determined, usually, by the waterways. The Indian rhino wallows in lakes, rivers, and temporary pools. The rhinos of Indonesia are too. Indeed, in terms of the most “primitive,” behaviorally and biologically, the Sumatran rhino, you have here a rhino in Asia while nothing like a hippo, it nevertheless is more clearly semi-aquatic in habitat and habits, than purely only dry land restricted.

    As to artists’ depictions of large vs small ears, ears vs frills, and so on, this is going to have to take some sorting out between eyewitness accounts, the sculpture artists, and cryptozoologists on site.

    Good discussion here.

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