Encyclopaedia of Cryptozoology
ابو القرن
Category Cryptoungulate (African unicorn)
Proposed scientific names
Other names Aboukarn, aboukeroun, aboukourn, aboukouroun, African unicorn
Country reported Central African Republic, Chad, South Sudan, Sudan
First reported 1844
Prominent investigators

The abūqarn (ابو القرن; Arabic: "father of the horn") was a cryptid ungulate, often described as an African unicorn, reported from what is now Chad and Sudan.[1] It was described as a one-horned pachyderm,[2] similar to the ngoubou and the bumé.[3] The name was also applied to normal rhinoceroses.[4]


The existence of the abūqarn was reported by the French Orientalist and Arabian explorer Fulgence Fresnel (1795 – 1855), who was then Consular Agent at Jeddah on the Red Sea. In April 1843, he wrote a letter to the Journal Asiatique asserting that a buffalo-like unicorn existed in Central Africa, based on the reports of Arab traders whom he trusted. These men claimed the animal existed east of Lake Chad, and in the Dinka country south of Darfur and Dār Fertit[2]–a region now encompassing parts of southern Chad, western Sudan and South Sudan, and eastern Central African Republic.[2] Dale A. Drinnon suggests that the specific region may have been a marshy depression which has since dried up.[3] The Arabs claimed that the animal was regularly hunted at the start of the monsoons by parties of men on horseback, armed with iron spears or javelins, who baited it with professional runners and their own horses, the white coats of which were supposed to put the unicorn into a fury. The runners would wake up the unicorn and then lead it to the hunting area, hiding up a tree, allowing the hunters take turns spearing the animal from behind, between the thighs or in the abdomen.[2]


The abūqarn was said to have a bull-like or buffalo-like body, extremely stocky and compact, with very wide shoulders–it supposedly stood 5 ft (1.5 m) tall, with a length of 6 ft (1.8 m) and a width of 4 ft (1.2 m). Its body was supported by massive, rigid elephant-like legs, which were so inflexible that the abūqarn supposedly had to sleep on its side, with its legs straight out. Its feet were round, with two nails, and its tail was short and hairy, and its ears small, with two lateral protuberances above or behind them. Its grey hide was said to be extremely tough, much thicker than that of a rhinoceros, with a line of hair stretching from the nape of the neck to the middle of the back. The abūqarn was most distinguished by its single horn, which grew from its forehead, between the eyes, instead of from the nose. This 18 in (45 cm) horn was grey, becoming scarlet red in the upper third, and Fresnel's informants insisted that it was flexible when the abūqarn was calm, having themselves seen it swaying from side to side. When the abūqarn became angry, its horn became rigid.[2]

The abūqarn was said to be a nocturnal herbivore, feeding mainly on melons and occton, and left piles of dung around 2 ft (60 cm) in height, with melon-sized dungballs. Females gave birth to only a single baby. While it was herbivorous, it was, like the rhinoceros, reputed to be extremely aggressive, tearing people to shreds with its horn without provocation.[2]

Notes and references[]

  1. Eberhart, George M. (2002) Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, ABC-CLIO, Inc., ISBN 1576072835
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Fresnel, Fulgence "Lettre sur Certain Quadrupedes Reputes Fabuleux," Journal Asiatique (March 1844)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Drinnon, Dale A. (19 April 2011) The African Unicorn, Killer of Elephants frontiersofzoology.blogspot.com [Accessed 27 March 2021]
  4. Jomard, Edme-François (1845) Observations sur le Voyage au Darfour