Posted by: John Kirk on April 13th, 2006
Some readers may no doubt know of Ivan Sanderson’s delightful book Abominable Snowmen – Legend Come to Life. In this very readable tome, written in Sanderson’s classic Scottish old-school intellectual style, the wily naturalist makes reference to the unknown bipedal hominids of Africa, some of whom were small in stature. Most notable is the Agogwe of East Africa which is really a miniature hominid similar to the Orang Pendek of Sumatra in that it is short, has reddish-brown hair and is rarely seen.
So too is the Séhité of the Cote d’Ivoire, one specimen of which was supposed to have been captured by a hunter and put in a cage. The leading local official was scandalized by this reddish hair covered little man thing and ordered that it to be clothed and sent to the capital Abidjan, by way of Bouaké. Unfortunately there is no record of what happened to the little red hominid.
There is also the unclassified Kalenoro of the island of Madagascar which is said to stand about a metre (3 Feet) tall and is possessed of feet and hands which each only contain three digits. It too is a hairy creature, but has dark hair all over its body. None of these purported hominids is by any means of the stature of the unknown hairy bipeds we know of in North America. Reported sightings of these African creatures are decidedly rare and can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
I was privileged to be part of a group of explorers who were the first white men to hear of the existence of another manlike creature in Africa. My purpose in being in Africa was not to seek hominids, but rather to seek answers to mystery of Mokele-mbembe. It was quite by chance that we stumbled across this unknown man beast thanks to an illustration in Loren Coleman’s book The Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti and other Mystery Primates Worldwide.
In November 2000, Dr Bill Gibbons and Dave Woetzel had carried out a reconnaissance in preparation for a full-scale expedition aimed at locating and documenting a Mokele-mbembe. While showing Baka pygmies and Bantus illustrations of the usual suspects thought to be the most likely candidates for Mokele-mbembe. They looked at drawings of apatosaurs, diplodocuses and brachiosaurs, but then, while casually flipping through the pages, they caught sight of a drawing by Harry Trumbore which appears in Loren’s aforementioned book.
They were surprised by the appearance of this creature in a book the white men from far away had brought. They asked Gibbons and Woetzel how they knew of this creature which, they said, was sometimes seen in the general region around where the pygmies encamped in the forest. The white explorers replied this animal was from Madagascar, far from the Cameroon forests and couldn’t possibly be the same creature. The pygmies were adamant that this was the creature knew as Dodu because there in the illustration was the telltale distinguishing feature which was the presence of only three digits on the hand and feet rather than the five found in the primate realm. Gibbons and Woetzel did not really know what to make of this peculiar beast.
It was not until a subsequent expedition to Cameroon that Gibbons would receive a clearer picture of what the Dodu was. You can read more about that in Part II.