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Lipata Coudray

The lipata was a cryptid reported from the rivers of northern Angola. It was described as a reptile resembling the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus), but larger and bulkier, and, in the opinion of most cryptozoologists, it represented an unusually old and large crocodile of that species.

Attestations[]

The supposed existence of a "great reptile" in Angola was first communicated to the Swiss naturalist Albert Monard (1886 — 1952) by a Diamang agent named M. A. da Paz Colaço, in 1931. Paz Colaço was initially sceptical, but, after interviewing local people, believed that such an animal, which he described to Monard, did exist. Paz Colaço had heard of its existence as early as 1921, when locals begged him for guns with which to kill a lipata with had taken one of their cattle. Monard subsequently travelled to Angola to investigate the lipata for himself, alongside his colleague C. E. Thiébaud. While lipatas were said to exist elsewhere, only two individuals were supposed to exist around the Chiumbé River, living in territories some six miles apart; the individual living upstream allegedly left its territory to move further upstream around the time of Monard's investigation. Although Monard spent much time paddling in the marshes, and ensured that the river was always being observed, his searches and traps failed to procure any evidence of the lipata.

Description[]

Paz Colaço described the lipata to Monard as an amphibious reptile of enormous size and ferocity, much larger than the crocodile and the hippopotamus. Monard was told that it resembles a crocodile and is sometimes identified as a crocodile, but is larger and broader, 13–20 ft (4–6 m) long, with a larger mouth and wider throat, and eyes closer together, on the top of its head. The lipata was said to generally remain underwater, and was not seen on the surface except in the late morning, and, according to some, just before sunset. It is supposedly aggressive, devouring livestock, men, and crocodiles. Paz Colaço and Monard's investigations both determined that the lipata was allegedly found in the Chiumbé, and that it was usually seen at the beginning of the monsoons, or during heavy rains. Paz Colaço claimed that it was also present in the Kuilo River, while Monard found no evidence of this; however, he did hear of its presence in the Kasai River.

Sightings[]

Most of the fisherwomen on the river claimed to have seen lipatas at some time, defending themselves by frightening the animals with loud shouts. One man claimed to have seen an individual sleeping on dry land at 9:00 or 10:00 AM on 1 September 1932, and the year before Monard's investigation, one was said to have taken an ox and a goat. The oldest sighting he collected had occurred some forty to forty-five years ago, when a lipata which had taken three cattle was caught in a trap and killed. A European was also alleged to have shot and killed a lipata, when he came across two individuals eating a hippopotamus which he had shot the previous evening.

Theories[]

Roy P. Mackal observed that oversized or undersized specimens of known species are often given unique names by local people, which does not necessarily indicate that the animals are unique species. Hence, the lipata could simply be a term applied to old and oversized Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus), one conclusion reached by Monard. In support of this is the fact that everyone interviewed by Monard identified lipatas with images of larger crocodiles.

We showed the natives a drawing of a crocodile; they unhesitatingly called it lipata. They called the larger of two other drawings lipata and the smaller ngandu (crocodile). Of a second pair, one broad and the other narrow, they called the first lipata, the second ngandu ... One native said that the lipata is a ngandu; but they all distinguish between the two animals. If you try to find what the difference is, the answer is always the same: lipata big; ngandu small. They do not seem to know of the existence of young lipatas, nor of big crocodiles.

Subsequently, Mackal argued that the most conservative explanation is that the lipata is an extremely old, oversized Nile crocodile which has been granted its own name. On the other hand, Monard, while supporting the possibility of an oversized Nile crocodile, alternatively suggested that the lipata could be some other species of known African crocodilian currently unknown in Angola, or even an undescribed species of crocodilian. Bernard Heuvelmans also wrote that the lipata could be a new species of crocodile, or at least a unique population, but ultimately concluded, like Monard, that its identity could not be settled without some physical evidence, but that it was most likely an old and large Nile crocodile. According to some sources, the name lipata refers to a mythologised version of the West African slender-snouted crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus), which is, however, more gracile than the Nile crocodile. Mackal felt that, given the available evidence, the lipata could be identical to the mahamba of the Congo, although he was not certain of this.

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