In a story eerily similar to that of Latin America's "chupacabra" sightings, residents in northern Namibia along the southwest coast of Africa are reportedly being terrorized by some kind of strange dog-pig hybrid creature, reports MSNBC.
Eyewitness accounts of the alleged beast describe a mostly white animal with a doglike head and a body similar to that of a giant warthog, with a broad, round, nearly hairless back and shoulders. The creature is typically spotted attacking domestic animals, such as dogs and goats.
Could the sightings be evidence of an animal unknown to science? Or perhaps just a case of mistaken identity?
Descriptions of the animal sound like some sort of genetic experiment gone awry. Locals have expressed confidence that the animal is unlike anything they've ever seen before. Many of them now suspect something nefarious is going on.
"This is an alien animal that the people have not seen before," said regional councilor Andreas Mundjindi. "We don't have a forest here, only bushes. So, this must be black magic at play."
Interestingly, this is not the first time that unknown creatures have been reported in the region. In July of 2009, panic spread after a wave of unusual livestock and goat deaths were reported. Allegedly, at least two dozen goats and several heads of cattle were found with their blood sucked out. Footprints of an unknown creature with doglike feet were scattered around the bodies. When officials followed the footprints, they mysteriously stopped in an open field, as if the creature suddenly took flight or vanished into thin air.
It's unclear if the reports in 2009 are related to the creature sightings currently taking place, but locals were quick to blame black magic in both instances. Such unfounded superstitions can run rampant when fears are stirred. In fact, a 2010 Gallup poll found belief in magic widespread throughout sub-Saharan Africa, with more than half of respondents saying they believe in witchcraft and sorcery.
Unfortunately, such naive superstition can have frightening social consequences. Already one poor old man has been accused of being a warlock and harboring the creature as his pet.
Of course, the most likely explanation for the sightings is that it's a case of mistaken identity. It could be a warthog witnessed from a deceiving angle, or perhaps a just sickly canine. Given that the area where the creature was spotted is a dry and arid region not far from the Kalahari desert, maybe it's just a desert mirage.
Until more tangible evidence is found, though, officials can only guess.