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Topic Started: Oct 14 2012, 12:19 PM (2,256 Views)
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The Mngwa (translates as the strange one) or Nunda is said to be a extremely large, ferocious, grey striped cat, that lives in the East African country of Tanzania. It is further described as, "the size of a donkey," It was first mentioned in a Swahili song from the year 1150 which also mentions the Lion (Simba) the Leopard (Nsui) and the Mngwa as three different creatures. The legend says that this big cat is stronger than a lion and deadlier than a leopard. It moves silently, comes out to kill humans, and then disappears. No hunter has ever succeeded in killing one. The fur is supposed to be dark grey with black stripes, more like a tabby cat than a tiger. About 700 years ago, leaders of native tribes organized hunting parties to find the Mngwa, but there is no record of them catching any .

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In the early 1900s, British official Captain William Hichens saw and wrote about the mangled bodies of several natives that were said to have been attacked by the legendary monster; the victims were found clutching tufts of grey fur in their hands. Native hunters who regularly chased lions were said to be frightened to pursue the Mngwa. Hichens' reported that he sent the "grey, matted fur" to headquarters to be identified. It was said to be "a fur and not a hair as you state: probably cat". In 1937, Hichens wrote that the attacks had begun again:

Not long ago a man was brought in to me at Mchinga on a litter and terribly mauled by some great beast. He said it was a mngwa... One well-known hunting-song tells of the Simba (lion), Nsui (leopard), and the Mngwa all in one verse, plainly showing that there is no confusion in the native mind between these three great carnivores.
In 1938, an influential discussion on the Mngwa appeared in the world famous British scientific journal Discovery.

The story then appeared in Frank W. Lane's 1954 issue of Nature Parade, about Patrick Bowen, a hunter who said he had tracked the Mngwa.
Patrick Bowen said a Mngwa had carried off a young boy, and that he and another man followed the tracks of the animal. "The spoor we were following appeared to be that of a leopard as large as the largest lion". Bowen also noted that it was possible that some of the attacks attributed to the chemosit or Nandi Bear were the work of the Mngwa.

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Bernard Heuvelmans, in his book “ On the Track of Unknown Animals”, suggests the theory that the mngwa may be an abnormally-coloured specimen of some known species. He later ,in a 1986 Cryptozoology article, proposed that it may be a larger subspecies of the golden cat (Profelis aurata).

Going to relieve the midnight watch, an oncoming native constable one night found his comrade missing. After a search he discovered him, terribly mutilated, underneath a stall. The man ran to his European officer, who went with me at once to the market. We found it obvious that the askari had been attacked and killed by some animal--a lion, it seemed.

In the victim's hand was clenched a matted mass of greyish hair, such as would come out of a lion's mane were it grasped and torn in a violent fight. But in many years no lion had been known to come into the town.

We were puzzling the problem at the boma next morning when the old Arab Liwali or native governor of the district hurried into our office, with two scared-looking men at his heels. Out late the previous night, they said, they had slunk by the market-place lest the askari should see them and think them evil-doers; and as they crept by they were horrified to see a huge brindled cat, the great mysterious nunda which is feared in every village on the coast, leap from the shadows and bear the policeman to the ground.

The Liwali, a venerable and educated man, assured us that within his memory the nunda had visited the village several times. It was an animal, not a lion or a leopard, but a huge cat as large as a donkey and marked like a tabby. I had heard this tale, and put it down as silly superstition, but the Liwali's assertion put a different light on things...
...That same night another constable was torn to pieces, and clutched in his hands and scattered about the buckles of his uniform was more of that grey, matted fur...

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Unknown big Cat of East Africa.

Etymology: From the Swahili (Bantu) mungwa (“strange one”).

Variant name: Nunda (“fierce animal,” “cruel man,” or “something heavy”).

Physical description: Size of a donkey. Gray stripes like a tabby cat. Small ears. Thick tail.

Behavior: Nocturnal. Has been heard to purr. Known to have raided villages in order to kill adults and carry off children.

Tracks: Leopardlike prints as big as a large lion’s.

Distribution: The Tanzania coast near Lindi and Mchinga.

Significant sightings: In 1922, William Hichens was magistrate of Lindi, Tanzania, when several constables were killed or mangled by a huge cat with gray fur. Another outbreak of maulings took place at Mchinga in the 1930s.

Possible explanations:
(1) A surviving species of one of several large African fossil cats from the Pleistocene such as Machairodus and Dinofelis.
(2) An unknown, giant subspecies of the African golden cat (Felis aurata), which has a wide variety of coloration, from golden to dark gray, and is reputed to be highly aggressive when cornered. It occasionally raids villages for poultry. It is not known from Tanzania, though its range extends into Kenya and Uganda.
Edited by linnaeus1758, Jun 14 2014, 04:23 AM.
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