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Saturday, 3 March 2012

A Vark Hond, or a Namibian Hogzilla?

Hybrid Dog Headed Pig Terrorizes Africa

NAMIBIA -- Residents in northern Namibia, on the southwest coast of Africa, have reported being terrorized by a bizarre dog-pig hybrid creature.
The animal is said to be mostly white and unlike anything the villagers have ever seen, with a doglike head and the broad, round, nearly hairless back and shoulders of a giant pig.
The beast was spotted chasing and attacking dogs, goats and other domestic animals in this arid region not far from the Kalahari desert.
As often happens when rumors of monsters spread in rural areas around the world, some locals have taken extra safety precautions, such as traveling in groups and arming themselves with weapons.
In 1995 and 1996, some Puerto Ricans armed themselves against the vampire beast el chupacabra; last year, Malaysian residents patrolled the streets searching for the mysterious orang minyak, or "oily man" creature that had recently terrorized them.
What could this monster be? One Namibian official, regional councilor Andreas Mundjindi, was quoted in Informante newspaper as saying, "This is an alien animal that the people have not seen before. We don't have a forest here, only bushes. So, this must be black magic at play."

Some people in the area trace the beast to one old man rumored to be a warlock or witch doctor, suggesting it's his pet (or, what witch-hunters hundreds of years ago would have called a "familiar").
The assumption that the beast has magical origins is not surprising. A 2010 Gallup poll found belief in magic widespread throughout sub-Saharan Africa, with more than half of respondents saying they personally believe in witchcraft and sorcery.
This is not the first time that unusual animals have been spotted in rural areas of Namibia; several other monsters have been reported over the years, including in July 2009, when unknown creatures reportedly sucked the blood out of livestock, including nearly two dozen goats.
Though no one saw the monsters, they were said to have left footprints similar to those of a dog, but much larger. Police followed the footprints, but they mysteriously stopped in an open field, as if the creature suddenly took flight or vanished.
At that time, locals were also convinced that the strange beast was the product of black magic - going so far as to accuse an old man and his sister of conjuring the creature.
It's not clear whether locals believe that the current dog-headed, pig-bodied animal is the same mystery creature that terrorized the region three years ago.
Whether the reports are real or rumor, hopefully belief in these creatures won't be used as an excuse for mob attacks on elderly men and women suspected of witchcraft.

--In this case it seems quite obvious to me that what we have is a quite ordinary feral hog with mixed pig-boar characteristics, a round body short on hair that looks like a domesticated pig and a long-snouted head with large fangs like a wild boar's head that reminds local people of a dog's head. Please bear in mind most of the locals would only have SEEN domesticated swine and the sight of a wild boar's head would probably come as a shock to most of them.

At left, Wild boar cross with "Doglike" fangs: at right, wild boar cross with thinner hair on body.

And the 2009 "Apparition" (if it should be called such) was once again a case of feral dogs at work and leaving recognizable dog tracks. Calling it a "Chupacabras attack" would be as wrong as any other time such feral dog attacks would be called "Chupacabras", but at least it would be consistent.

Best Wishes, Dale D.


  1. Bored Zoologist4 March 2012 at 04:52

    "mostly white and unlike anything the villagers have ever seen, with a doglike head and the broad, round, nearly hairless back and shoulders" sounds like a honey badger.

  2. A ratel would be vicious enough, but would it be bald enough? Remember there is not much hair on the body of the animal. I will grant you that a bald ratel would be pretty much indistinguishable as to its actual identity.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  3. Varkhond in Afrikaans is a term that normally refers to the bull terrier. If you look at a white one, they look like pigs!

    There was a ratel with mange that was found in Saudi Arabia, I believe, and it, of course, was called a chupacabra.

  4. ARRGH, I KNEW it had to happen!!
    As far as the Bull Terrier goes-well maybe a very fat one looks like a pig. I could sort of see that, but I don't know what kind of a reputation the breed has in that country.

    I once had a very good friend who spoke Afrikaans. I have a little familiarity with the languagre but it's been a while. Ironicaly, this friend set up my current Facebook page for me-which is why my current Facebook page was in Afrikaans, and accounts for some of the rather peculiar early activity on that page.... (BTW, I'll friend you on FB if I haven't already)

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  5. The "pig" at the bottom of the page which is shown on the left side is actually a peccary. Peccaries have upper canines which are in contrast to those of real suids not turned up. The one on the right side is an asian bearded pig, and also no cross at all, they have always quite sparse fur.

  6. The photos at the bottom came from an intermediate-level commentary. We have discussed both peccaries and bearded pigs on the companion blog before. In this case it was in no way necessary to say that the strains of pigs that were involved in the hypothetical cross were actually those strains or even that such strains were or even could be identified. All that was necessary was to say that some pigs have such traits. And I think those photos do well enough to argue that point.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.


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