The Nandi Bear is a cryptid, or unconfirmed animal, reported to live in East Africa. It takes its name from the Nandi people who live in western Kenya, in the area the Nandi Bear is reported from. It is also known as Chemosit, Kerit, Ngoloko, or Duba (which derives from dubb or dubbha, the Arabic words for ‘bear’ and ‘hyena’ respectively. )
Frank W. Lane wrote, “What the Abominable Snowman is to Asia, or the great Sea Serpent is to the oceans, the Nandi Bear is to Africa. It is one of the most notorious of those legendary beasts which have, so far, eluded capture and the collector’s rifle.”
Descriptions of the Nandi Bear are of a ferocious, powerfully built carnivore with high front shoulders (over four feet tall) and a sloping back, somewhat similar to a hyena. Some have speculated that Nandi Bears are in fact a misidentified hyena or a surviving Ice Age giant hyena: Karl Shuker states that a surviving short-faced hyaenaPachycrocuta brevirostris, extinct c. 500,000 years before present, would “explain these cases very satisfactorily.”
Other than the Atlas bear (extinct by the 1800s), no modern bears are known to be native to modern Africa, though the Etruscan bear, and species of the prehistoric genera Agriotherium and Indarctos, lived in Northern Africa during the Pliocene and Pleistocene. Louis Leakey suggested that Nandi Bear descriptions matched that of the extinct Chalicotherium, though chalicotheres were herbivores.
The Nandi people call it “kerit“. Local legend holds that it only eats the brain of its victims. Nandi Bears were regularly reported in Kenya throughout the 19th century and early 20th century. Bernard Heuvelmans‘s On the Track of Unknown Animals and Karl Shuker’s In Search of Prehistoric Survivors provide the most extensive chronicles of Nandi Bear sightings in print.
In popular culture
The Peculiar Exploits of Brigadier Ffellowes, a collection of contemporary fantasy stories by Sterling E. Lanier, includes a short story called “His Only Safari,” in which the title character briefly sights a “kerit” and speculates that such creatures formed the basis for the Egyptian legends of Anubis.
Tarzan #134 (Gold Key Comics), March 1963, features Tarzan meeting and later battling a Nandi Bear which is pictured as a shaggy sloth bear-like creature with floppy ears, like a cocker spaniel.