The Emela-ntouka is an African legendary creature in the mythology of the Pygmy tribes, and a cryptid purported to live in Central Africa. Its name means “killer of the elephants” in the Lingala language. In other languages it is known as the Aseka-moke, Njago-gunda, Ngamba-namae, Chipekwe or Irizima.
The Emela-ntouka is claimed to be around the size of an African Bush Elephant, brownish to gray in color, with a heavy tail, and with a body of similar shape and appearance to a rhinoceros, including one long horn on its snout. Keeping its massive bulky body above ground level supposedly requires four short, stump-like legs. It is described as having no frills or ridges along the neck. The animal is alleged to be semi-aquatic and feed on Malombo and other leafy plants. The Emela-ntouka is claimed to utter a vocalization, described as a snort, rumble or growl.
The structure of its horn is debated among writers on the subject. The debate runs thus: if the “horn” is ivory, then it would be a tusk (tooth) and not a horn at all. Some rhinoceroses do have tusks, especially the Asiatic one-horned kinds; yet these are not known to inhabit Africa. If the horn is made of bone, then the creature is a reptile, as many fossil reptile groups, such as the ceratopsians, had horns made of bone. Finally, the horn could be made of keratin, as are the horns of African rhinos. However, without a specimen to examine, any attempt to classify the emela-ntouka by this method can only be speculative.
This cryptid is alleged to mainly inhabit the vast shallow waters in the swamps and lakes of the Congo River basin, especially in the Likouala swamps in the Republic of the Congo, and possibly Cameroon. It is also said to inhabit Lake Bangweulu in Zambia. They are claimed to be solitary, herbivorous animals. The inhabitants of the area are alleged to treat the creature with great fear.
J.E. Hughes published his book Eighteen Years on Lake Bangweulu in 1933, in which he reported that an animal that fits the description of an Emela-Ntouka (although not referred to by this name) was slaughtered by Wa-Ushi tribesmen, along the shores of the Luapula River, which connects Lake Bangweulu to Lake Mweru.
The Emela-Ntouka was mentioned by name for the first time in 1954, in an article in the journal Mammalia, authored by former Likouala game inspector Lucien Blancou. He stated the Emela-Ntouka was “larger than a buffalo” and dwelled throughout the Likouala swamps. It was also Blancou who first mentioned the fact that an Emela-Ntouka kills elephants, buffalos or hippos when disturbed, much like the Mokele-mbembe’s allegedly renowned hatred for hippos. While both animals are supposedly herbivorous, they also supposedly share a fierce sense of territoriality, and it is for this reason the pygmies are claimed to “fear it more than any other dangerous animal”. In about 1930, an Emela-Ntouka was supposedly killed near Dongou.
Later evidence was contributed by Dr. Roy P. Mackal, who led two expeditions into the Congo in 1980 and 1981. He gathered details on various other cryptids. 1987 saw the publication of Mackal’s book, A Living Dinosaur, wherein he summarized the expeditions.
A planned season two episode of the New Zealand documentary World Mysteries included an interview with a man who claimed to have encountered a dead Emela-Ntouka. He claimed to still possess the animal’s horn, which he removed from the body. The episode was filmed but never aired.
A popular speculation is that the mythical monster is in fact a relict ceratopsian. Proponents of this idea believe that the Republic of the Congo is home to many prehistoric animals such as living dinosaurs, including the Mokele mbembe and Mbielu-Mbielu-Mbielu (possibly sauropod or stegosaur dinosaurs). In 1981, Dr. Roy Mackal while searching the Congo for the Mokele-mbembe, collected accounts of the Emela-ntouka. Mackal initially considered that Emela-ntouka might be a Monoclonius, or a Centrosaurus, both ceratopsians. As such, it might be related to the Ngoubou, which might be a six-horned Styracosaurus. However, Mackal also noted the pygmies did not report a neck frill, which he would have expected on a ceratopsian. Furthermore, the Ceratopsia are absent from Africa’s fossil record. Author Loren Coleman suggested that the Emela-Ntouka is not saurian, but a new species of semi-aquatic rhinoceros.