Encyclopaedia of Cryptozoology
Category Ultra-mysterious beast
Proposed scientific names
Other names
Country reported Liberia
First reported 2007[1]
Prominent investigators • John-Mark Shephard

The kumbway is a cryptid reported from the rainforest swamps of Liberia's Lofa County. It is described anomalously as an armour-plated, pangolin-like mammal with large teeth,[1] somewhat like the dingonek of Kenya.


Depiction of the dingonek by Philippe Coudray in Guide des Animaux Cachés (2014).

The alleged existence of the kumbway was reported by American aid worker and missionary John-Mark Shephard, who sent information regarding it and the better-known gbahali to Loren Coleman in December 2007. Shephard had received descriptions of the cryptid from the Mende people of the Vahun District, particularly a member of his staff named Samuel Carmo.[1]


The kumbway is described as a large quadruped, 15–20 ft (4–6 m) in length, with a tail. It is distinguished by the "armor-like plating," patterned in brown and black, covering its back, while its unarmoured underside and snout are covered in long whitish hairs. The teeth are said to be large, compared to a human thumb. Its legs are erect, supporting the body from below, rather than splayed like those of a lizard or crocodile, and are armed with thick, powerful caws.[1]

Its hind legs are said to be powerful enough for it to rear up bipedally, a habit also described in the only recorded sighting. An alleged ambush predator, it hunts rodents and small forest antelopes, and uses its powerful claws to dig out burrows which may later be occupied by other animals, such as the giant pangolin (Smutsia gigantea).[1]



Samuel Carmo told Shephard that his unnamed uncle, a hunter from the Vahun District, had killed a kumbway in the wilderness near Segemah, close to the border with Sierra Leone.[1]

He apparently had been stalking it for several days when he came across it early one morning.
When it saw him, it crouched down in the grass, leaving only its armor-like back exposed. His shotgun would have been ineffective at this point. Then animal then reared up on its hind legs to attack him. Luckily for him, he was able to shoot it in its mouth, killing it instantly. He hurried back to his village and recruited three other men to help him carry it home ... They then butchered the animal and the villagers, including Samuel, ate it.

Shephard visited Segemah in 2007, but Samuel's uncle was away in Sierra Leone. As of December 2007, Shephard was hoping to return to Segemah to interview the witness personally.[1]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Coleman, Loren (30 December 2007) On The Track of the Kumbway cryptozoonews.com [Accessed 17 October 2021]