Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Game is Afoot....

About forty five minutes ago we received the first proper bulletin, and some exclusive photographs from the expedition. Written by Richard, it explains in some detail how the `CFZ Six` have hit the ground running....

"July 5th

The team do their own inimitable thing in West Africa.
This must be the first cryptozoological expedition
we have ever done with a beer garden!

The flight in yesterday was uneventful, but afforded me an aerial view of the fairly exstensive mangrove swamps that in some places lie cheek in jowl with suburban Banjul. Aside from a small walk on the beach and dinner at the Hotel we did almost nothing. I feel spoilt staying in a hotel. In the past I have had to camp out on the jungle floor or desert sands.

Flying over the Gambian mangrove swamps
as the team approach Banjul

A rainbow lizard (A. agama)
peering nervously at the CFZ team

Today was the first day of the expedition proper. We walked to Bungalow Beach, the alleged resting place of `Gambo`, the creature discovered in 1983 by Owen Burnham. Things have changed in the 23 years since the carcase was found. Bungalow Beach is no longer remote. Several hotels have sprung up, as well as a nightclub called `Destinies`. The aforementioned club belongs to the brother of the president of the Gambia who is currently under investigation for fraud.

The beer garden of `Destinies` may well lie right on top of, or perilously close to the area where `Gambo` was buried. We will be examining the layout of the club with our map more closly, but the implications of the police investigation of the club and its owner may not bode well for excavation.

Chris Moiser on top of Gambo`s grave?

We met some men selling wood carvings and enquired if they could provide carvings of the Ninki-Nanka. They showed me photographs of the carvings but they were generic Chinese dragons copied from other designs. On a more upbeat note we have gained some information on Ninki-Nanka.

A tense moment regarding questions about `Gambo`

A little way up Bungalow Beach we came upon a market place where jewellers made silver Ninki-Nankas. Chris Moiser has known about these traditional designs for years, and knew the man who made them. One of the sellers, Baka Samba told us that his late uncle, a hunter, had seen Ninki-Nanka many years ago. He could not describe it well, as his uncle only described it as very big and terrible. It had four legs, a long tail and an awful looking head. He said it had fire in its mouth. This may actually mean that the inside of the creature's mouth was red, or that it had a red/orange forked tongue that flickered in and out like flame. He said that the creature was very dangerous, and that those who saw it usually died within four or five years of the sighting.

Baka, whose uncle claims to have seen the ninki-nanka

This could mean they contracted some kind of disease, such as malaria from the swamps where the beast was seen. This - I should say - is pure speculation.

Baka's nephew Babu said that Ninki-Nanka was like a huge crocodile, but its head and teeth were different. Its eyes were large. He had not seen the creature for himself.
Later, whilst enjoying a drink of fruit juice at a beachside hotel, we were approched by a man who said he knew of a lake in Senegal where Ninki-Nanka was supposed to live. The lake was five kilometers long and was about 250 kilometers away. He said he had seen strange lights on the lake at night, and large disturbances in the water during the day. He drew a furrow in the earth and said he had seen drag-marks like these, but around four feet across around the lake. He believed in Ninki-Nanka. The marks he made in the sand recalled the slide marks that crocodiles leave.

Chris Clark asked if the lake had a bad smell and contained rotting vegetation. The answer was yes to both. Chris thought that perhaps a build-up of methane could explain both the lights and disturbance. The man - whose name was Papa - could not tell us how much it would cost, but left us his number. We are still undecided if this long and probably very expensive trip would be worth it. Tomorrow we head for Abuko national park, the place associated with one of the earliest records of Ninki Nanka."

There you have it. The boys and girls of the CFZ have certainly started as they mean to go on. Watch this space for more news soon...


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