The irizima (Unknown: "the thing that may not be spoken of") was a cryptid reported from Lake Edward in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. It has been compared to both the mokele-mbembe and the emela-ntouka, but is considered one of the most poorly-supported of the African neodinosaurs.
It was first discussed by Captain William Hichens, who alleged that there were two conflicting descriptions of the monster: a "gigantic hippopotamus with the horns of a rhinoceros," and an animal with the legs of a hippo, the trunk of an elephant, the head of a lizard, and the tail of an aardvark. According to Hichens, such an animal had been seen by an unnamed big game hunter, who subsequently told his story to Herbert Francis Fenn, provoking his search for neodinosaurs in the Congo. Hichens also claimed that "a madcap fellow" had searched for the monster, and had found a Brontosaurus, "a huge marsh animal, ten times as big as the biggest elephant," in a Congo swamp. However, Bernard Heuvelmans believed that Hichens had mistakenly associated details of the Great Brontosaurus Hoax and Captain Leicester Stevens' safari with Lake Edward.
The Lake Edward monster was later referred to by hunter Roger Courtney, who described it as an enormous black animal which creates large wakes and spouts. Courtney claimed that a Dutch hunter had seen the animal from the shore of Lake Edward, but by the time the hunter convinced his men to help him onto the water, the monster had dived. Courtney also heard stories, which he believed to be reliable, of "dinosaurs" from the nearby Ituri Forest.
E. A. Temple-Perkins, who investigated the irizima at Lake Edward, suggested that the monster, particularly as described by Courtney, was a native myth created to explain natural waterspouts. Bernard Heuvelmans found this explanation likely, given the lack of good data from Lake Edward, and suggested that Captain Hichens had placed the Lepage-Gapelle hoax monster in Lake Edward by accident, leaving Roger Courtney's brief account the only description of the Lake Edward monster. On the other hand, according to Karl Shuker, these two conflicting descriptions show that the term irizima is probably applied to both of the two main African neodinosaur types in Lake Edward, the long-necked mokele-mbembe type and the horned emela-ntouka type. Shuker, noting Hichens' reference to the irizima having multiple horns, suggests it may be the same animal as the Arsinoitherium-like ngoubou as well as the emela-ntouka and possibly the Biblical behemoth.
Notes and references
- Eberhart, George M. (2002) Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology ABC-CLIO, Inc. ISBN 1-57607-283-5
- Shuker, Karl P. N. (2016) Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors: The Creatures That Time Forgot?, Coachwhip Publications, ISBN 978-1616463908
- Heuvelmans, Bernard (1978) Les Derniers Dragons d'Afrique, Plon, ISBN 978-2259003872
- Hichens, William "On the Trail of the Brontosaurus: Encounters with Africa's Mystery Animals," Chambers's Journal Vol. 7, No. 17 (1927)
- Courtney, Roger (1935) Africa Calling
- Temple-Perkins, Eric Arnold (1955) Kingdom of the Elephant