Posted by: John Kirk on April 15th, 2006
In Part I of this article, you might recall that in November, 2000 Bill Gibbons and Dave Woetzel had stumbled upon a possible new hominid while interviewing pygmies and Bantus about Mokele-mbembe in southern Cameroon.
The pygmies had described a dark haired manlike creature which only had three digits on its hands and feet. This puzzled Gibbons and Woetzel immensely, but they did not follow up on this creature as their primary objective was to locate a Mokele-mbembe and not to search for speculative hominids.
Three months later Gibbons returned to Cameroon with a full scale venture known as the Cryptosafari/BCSCC Mokele-mbembe Expedition. Joining Gibbons were Scott Norman, Rob Mullin, Pierre Sima and myself. It was while we were taking a breather from searching for Mokele-mbembe in a forest clearing that I decided out of curiosity to see how the pygmy guides and porters would react to my bringing up the subject of the Dodu while we rested in an area that I had heard was a possible Dodu habitat.
Several of the younger pygmies looked aghast at the mention of this man beast, but two older pygmies in our group, who went by the European names of Rosé and Paul, immediately rose to recount stories they had heard about this creature to us. Paul was first to relate how his father had actually fought with one of these creatures many years ago and killed it. Rosé told us that several people he knew had seen a Dodu, but kept their distance as this was a very vicious animal which did not hesitate to kill gorillas and chimpanzees which ventured into its domain.
Rosé revealed that the Dodu had very strange habits and one of those revolved around how it would obtain its favourite delicacy. Although, the Dodu did not eat gorillas and chimps it had killed, it would use the carcasses of these dead animals to attract the food it liked to feast on most. You see, when a Dodu kills a primate, it rips its abdomen open and then leaves the carcass to fill with maggots attracted to the rotting corpse. When there is an abundant supply of maggots the Dodu returns to the body and scoops the maggots out of the abdominal cavity and devours them.
There we were, sitting, right in the open, in the middle of Dodu territory listening to chilling tales about a creature that at that monet could have been lurking somewhere in the forest. Some of the younger pygmies began to look very uneasy and beads of sweat could be seen forming on their brows at the prospect they might end up being a Dodu’s dinner. Rosé and Paul also related how the Dodu would create little piles of sticks. Bill Gibbons told us he had heard the same thing from the pygmies he had talked to the first time he was in Cameroon. We speculated amongst ourselves whether this had any thing to do with the creature employing the sticks as some sort of territorial marker.
A day or two later, Rob Mullin had the good fortune to meet a young Bantu boy while washing in the local river. Rob, who speaks no local language or even French – which is widely used in Cameroon – casually mentioned the words Mokele-mbembe to the boy and to Rob’s amazement there was an instant recognition of the word. Knowing that I speak French, Rob brought the boy to me and I questioned him about the Mokele-mbembe. He told me that his father and uncle had seen it in another river a kilometer or so south of the river we camped by. I asked him if he would bring us to his father when out of the blue, both his father and uncle walked into our encampment. If you want to hear about their sighting, you’ll have to wait until my book Cryptosafari – The Stalking of the Beast Called Mokele-mbembe, which I hope to complete by year’s end, comes out. Suffice it to say we gave them Bill’s binder full of dinosaur pictures to look at, the same one he had shown the pygmies on his previous trip.
After pointing out possible candidates for the creature knew as Mokele-mbembe, the two men and a group of villagers began to leaf through the binder and when they reached the last page they happened upon the Kalanoro, drawn by Harry Trumbore and featured in Loren Coleman’s book The Field Guide to Yeti, Bigfoot and Mystery Primates Worldwide. As one the gathered throng collectively cried out: ”Dodu!”
Harry Trumbore’s drawing of Africa’s kalanoro, from The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates. Copyright 2006, Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe.
As they did this we could see some laughing in the way people do when they see something scary, but are relieved when they know it can’t hurt them. Others were just downright frightened by the picture. Now, these people were Bantus who lived by rivers and not pygmies who lived in the forest where the Dodu seemingly lurked. We were astonished they also all knew about this creature too.
In Part III I will relate the extraordinary story told to us by a young African who had actually seen a Dodu and how it came to be a captive of white hunters.