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The Mystery of Lake Tanganyika

Tanganyika is a long and deep freshwater lake in Africa, with huge fishery resources for the border areas of Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi and Zambia. Lake Tanganyika also attracts public opinion about mysterious monsters.

From the scientist’s notes
For a long time, the people of Lake Tanganyika have spread about the appearance of a large and fierce creature that lives at the bottom of the lake. The Tabwa tribe in northern Zambia call it the “God of Fishing”, and they often hold rituals before the fishing season to pray to the “god” for a smooth trip.

The first reports of this monster appeared in 1893 when a survey team led by Irish explorer Joseph Augustus Moloney went to the lake and met with missionaries in the area. These monks told them about a large “sea snake”, which lurks in the murky depths of Lake Tanganyika, and is sometimes seen sunning itself on the shore.

Another report in 1907 came from the English naturalist, Lord Walter Rothschild. He said he had heard stories about large tusks lurking in the southern part of the lake, which was said to be quite fierce. Rothschild did not see the creature but said one of the witnesses was a South African police officer who told the story and that he believed the accounts.

Tales of the Lake Tanganyika monster continued to spread into the 1900s, mostly from foreigners, with an increasing presence in the area. In 1914, German doctor MV Thierfelder traveled along the remote shores of a lake in Burundi, where he set up a medical station to help deal with the alarming state of the sleeping epidemic.

One day he went hunting with a local guide named Ilsgensmeier. This person took him around the lake area, which bordered the craggy cliffs, and there they saw an entity that the German doctor did not know how to describe. It was a giant sea monster that he later estimated its length to be up to 30m.

He said of this monster: “Suddenly, I saw from the lake a creature that looked like a monstrous snake appeared. It did not zigzag like a snake, but vertically on the water, at a fairly fast speed, straight to the area bordering the rocky shore, where I was lying still.

It has no legs, near the head there are slender fin-like structures on the sides. The whole body of the animal is a light brown color, without scales, but covered with a thick, silky hair. The head of the animal is difficult to recognize, because it appears only briefly on the surface of the water, but is not large and is not clearly separated from the body.

It doesn’t look like a snake’s head, but rather the head of a mammal, like a manatee. However, its mouth seems narrow and elongated. After moving among the otters for a while, the giant beast turned and plunged into the lake, joining the undulating waves.

In 1920 came another remarkable story, also by a French foreigner, writer and explorer, Victor Forbin. He said he had collected many reports of the creature known as “amphibians, of enormous size, similar to elephants, rhinoceros and hippos in many different respects”.

But Forbin’s documents in the following years were considered unreliable, mostly just rumors and false statements, even the famous enigmatic animal researcher Bernard Heuvelmans expressed doubts about the authenticity of his stories.

In 1928, there were many reports of an aquatic reptile being seen by sailors on ships passing by the lake, and on one occasion they even discovered traces of this creature on the surface of the lake. shallow, described as resembling the claws of a giant bird.

These stories inspired explorer George Grey. He conducted a search throughout the area but was unable to locate the strange creature, apart from reports from natives.

The sightings after the 20th century began to dwindle, leading one to wonder what the sightings were, if indeed the monster, where it was. Is this an unidentified reptile or an unidentified horned pachyderm?

It’s difficult to answer because the descriptions vary widely, from a sleek zigzag reptile to a large, sluggish hippo-like animal. This leads one to consider whether there could be many monsters in the lake area.

Whether the story is based on a real creature or just part of the imagination, the Lake Tanganyika monster has become an outlandish story in Africa and the quest isn’t over. But with a depth of 1,436m (the second deepest in the world), 670km long of the lake, to detect strange creatures here is not easy.

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