The Ngoubou

Posted by: John Kirk on April 9th, 2006

The principal purpose of the Cryptosafari/BCSCC expedition to Cameroon a few years ago was to obtain evidence of the elusive saurian known as Mokele-mbembe. However, while Bill Gibbons, Robert Mullin, Scott Norman, Pierre Sima and I were in the bush we encountered people who were adamant that other life forms existed in their part of the world that really ought not to.

One of these was the Ngobou.

A few months before we set out on our expedition, Bill Gibbons and Dave Woetzel made a foray into Cameroon to reconnoiter a possible promising Mokele-mbembe habitat. They ranged over a tremendous area crossing a number of rivers and encountering many Bantu and Baka pygmies. It was while they were visiting with a group of pygmies that they first heard of an animal that was known locally as Ngoubou. Now in those savannah lands of Cameroon, there is a known species of Ngoubou, the rhinoceros, but this was not the Ngoubou the pygmies were referring to.

They all knew what a rhino was, but the Ngoubou they referred to lived in the savannah and was a curious sort of creature with a neck frill a beaky face and several horns. Gibbons sensed that the pygmies were talking about an animal that bore a more than passing resemblance to a triceratops – an animal that had been extinct for 65 million years but was never known to have inhabited Africa. This creature was found in North America primarily from Montana according to the fossil record.

When he returned, Bill advised us of this curiosity and we decided that we would follow up on this when we conducted our own expedition. He was wondering if the pygmies were confusing the creature with the Emela-Ntouka which has been described by Bantu people to animal collector Hans Schomburghk in 1913. This animal is about the size of an elephant, stands on thick legs and curiously possesses a single horn which rises from  the end of its snout. Emela-Ntouka in Bantu signifies a “killer of elephants” and it was said to also inhabit Cameroon, Congo, the Central African Republic, Gabon and Zambia.

The pygmies were adamant that their creature had more than one horn and that the father of one of the senior members of the community had killed one with a spear a number of years ago.

We resolved to get to the bottom of this mystery while we were in Cameroon and it did not take long after hitting our search area that we began to find out that the knowledge of Ngobou the unknown creature was widespread. When I say unknown, I mean to us in the western world, because it was certainly known to Bantu and pygmy alike in Cameroon.

I recall us talking to the pygmies while on a trek in the forest. The subject was the Dodu, a hair covered hominid with three toes and fingers on each foot and hand. The Dodu is a story for another time, but while we discussed it, the subject of the Ngoubou arose. Bill had brought with him a binder with a variety of illustrations of living and extinct animals with which to test the faculties of the eyewitnesses of Mokele-mbembe and other sundry unknown African animals. He had inserted several illustrations of triceratops in the binder to see if the witnesses would be able to identify it as the Ngoubou. To a man, the pygmies all said, whilst the triceratops looked like the Ngoubou, it wasn’t the Ngoubou.

Some days later in the pygmy village of Langoue, we were talking to two French-speaking Bantus who seemed to be every articulate and bright men. One of them had personally witnessed a Mokele-mbembe feeding in a river for three hours. We questioned him about the veracity of reports indicating this strange animal called Ngoubou had been sighted. Both these men indicated that Ngoubou was a real animal and known very well in these parts. It was part of the local fauna and they wondered why we were so curious about an animal that, although rare, was taken for granted.

We told them that no one where we come from had heard of a second Ngoubou apart from the rhinoceros. They told us that it lived in the savannah to the west of the river and that nowadays not too many talked of seeing them, but it was accepted that there were still some around. Dutifully, we showed them the drawings of the triceratops and again were rebuffed by the comment that while it looked like the Ngoubou it did not have nearly enough horns and that they were in the wrong place on the triceratops. I asked what they meant by that, the men told us that Ngoubou had six horns on the frill itself and one of them drew the configuration for me on a scrap of paper.

During the rest of our stay we continued to talk to a variety of people who knew of or had seen Ngoubou, but none very recently.

When we returned from our expedition I got down, in earnest, to trying to find out if there was a match for the Ngoubou in the fossil record, bearing in mind that it looked like a triceratops but wasn’t exactly the same. Obviously, I had to look among the ceratopsians as the first point of reference and it did not take me long to find the perfect match for Ngoubou.  I nearly had a heart attack when I turned to a page in a book on dinosaurs that featured ceratopsians and saw so clearly the animal that had been so often described and drawn for us in Cameroon.

There in all its glory was the styracosaur, a perfect match for the Ngoubou. The implications of this hit me like a ton of bricks. Here was another saurian that was supposed to have died out ages ago, but Africans – many who have never seen a textbook – had described this animal to perfection. This was as much a thrill to me as finding a Mokele-mbembe.

When I return on our next expedition, I will be armed with a myriad illustrations of the styracosaur and will be anxious to see whether this creature is positively identified as the Ngoubou. If it is then there will be some serious searching in the savannah to do and perhaps some textbooks to be rewritten.

John Kirk About John Kirk
One of the founders of the BCSCC, John Kirk has enjoyed a varied and exciting career path. Both a print and broadcast journalist, John Kirk has in recent years been at the forefront of much of the BCSCC’s expeditions, investigations and publishing. John has been particularly interested in the phenomenon of unknown aquatic cryptids around the world and is the author of In the Domain of the Lake Monsters (Key Porter Books, 1998). In addition to his interest in freshwater cryptids, John has been keenly interested in investigating the possible existence of sasquatch and other bipedal hominids of the world, and in particular, the Yeren of China. John is also chairman of the Crypto Safari organization, which specializes in sending teams of investigators to remote parts of the world to search for animals as yet unidentified by science. John travelled with a Crypto Safari team to Cameroon and northern Republic of Congo to interview witnesses among the Baka pygmies and Bantu bushmen who have sighted a large unknown animal that bears more than a superficial resemblance to a dinosaur. Since 1996, John Kirk has been editor and publisher of the BCSCC Quarterly which is the flagship publication of the BCSCC. In demand at conferences, seminars, lectures and on television and radio programs, John has spoken all over North America and has appeared in programs on NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, TLC, Discovery, CBC, CTV and the BBC. In his personal life John spends much time studying the histories of Scottish Clans and is himself the president of the Clan Kirk Society. John is also an avid soccer enthusiast and player.

12 Responses to “The Ngoubou”

  1. U.T. Raptor responds:

    I was under the impression that Styracosaurus (and all the ceratopsians like it) were exclusively North American dinosaurs. Come to think of it, I’m not sure if any ceratopsians are known from Africa…

  2. John Kirk responds:

    As U.T. Raptor points out, what makes this all so interesting is that ceratopsians have only been found in North American fossil beds. There isn’t one bone from anywhere in Africa.

    If the Ngoubou is a ceratopsian then it is incredible to think that their range could be so great. We’ll have to see whether it actually is, but if it is, then science needs to rethink some of its theories.

  3. CryptoInformant responds:

    Well, North America was connected to South America the first time in the Triassic, and then, during the Jurassic, South America was connected to Africa. For this to be a good explanation, the ceratopia’s earliest ancestors would have to have evolved in the Triassic, which the earliest ornithischians did. Some Early Cretaceous ones were found pretty far south in the US, and the earliest one was found in Asia.

  4. Mnynames responds:

    Yes, best guess theories indicate that the Ceratopsians likely first evolved in Asia, so it is possible that some of them may have made their way to Africa. From there, it is possible that one line of them could have developed along parallel lines to the Styracosaurus. What becomes most tenuous is the idea that some Dinosaurs somehow managed to survive the global devastation of the Xiculub Impact 65 million years ago.
    On this, first, let me just say that I love Dinosaurs, have ever since I was a kid, and I am more than willing to revise my ideas of them (Curiously enough, my mother tells me I always argued that they were warm-blooded whenever she read my Dinosaur books to me. About a year after I first argued it, the Press picked up on Bob Bakker and others’ ideas that they were indeed warm-blooded, which surprised her, needless to say). Ceratopsians are also, by far, my favourite, so more than anything I would love for some to still exist. Secondly, I in no way wish to suggest that the researchers OR the natives are untrue or dishonest. I do trust native testimony, although I know errors in translation can occur (The 6-legged Octopus that turned out to be a Walking Stick Bug comes to mind). I just find it hard to believe that such large beasts were able to survive such a global cataclysm AND remain incredibly marginalized, never having resumed their role as dominat species. I just don’t see the logic behind this proposal, short of the obvious fact that people seem to be reporting things that appear to be them. Do I believe that Mokele Mbembe exists? I do actually, based on the repeated reports of the natives. But I think that it must be some sort of mammal, perhaps something akin to an Indricotherium. If the Ngobou does exist as well, I would similarly expect to find that it is in fact a mammal- in this case likely a rhinoceros relative. It may be wise to bring some images of Brontotheriums and their cousins, just to be sure. Regardless, happy hunting, and I honestly hope you prove me very, very wrong!

  5. One Eyed Cat responds:

    I am curious what the Ngoubou’s remprtment is. That is the Emela Ntouka is said to kill elephants does the Ngoubou have a simular reputation?

  6. jayman responds:

    Relict hominids are one thing, but these relict dinosaur reports are something else. It’s relatively easy to imagine how a creature with near-human intelligence could learn to avoid humans and stay out of sight most of the time, but here it’s an animal big as a tank with a brain the size of a walnut.

  7. SaruOtoko responds:

    I love it! Any chance of a living dinosaur is a good one!

  8. shumway10973 responds:

    I thought that was the whole purpose of crytostudies was to find facts, not just what we were taught in school or by high and mighty “experts”. If we truly had pangean continent at one time, then any animal could have migrated anywhere they wanted, the question would be could they survive? I hope someone finds one alive.

  9. Mnynames responds:

    Pangea broke apart at the dawn of the age of Dinosaurs some 200+ MYA. Our current understanding of that time period indicates that because animals were not isolated, there was remarkably little diversity and speciation. By 65 MYA, the continents were more or less in their current positions, just under 300 more feet of water than present levels. That means that many animals were indeed isolated by that point. Asia and North America were likely still connected via Beringia, meaning that there may still have been some transfer of biota.

  10. lincoln s responds:

    one thing people constantly forget is america was connected to asia during the ice age by the bering land bridge so if they survived till than they could have migrated across to asia then to africa . also could someone please tell me when the ngoubou last sighted

  11. lincoln s responds:

    one thing people constantly forget is america was connected to asia during the ice age by the bering land bridge so if they survived till than they could have migrated across to asia then to africa . also could someone please tell me when the ngoubou last sighted.

  12. linnaeus1758 responds:

    Obviously the Styracosaurus fits perfectly. But there is another curious animal similar to rhinos that also fits: the Uintatherium and the Eobasileus that had several horns (both are very similar and resembles rhinos in size and shape).


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