The Nandi Bear is a cryptid or unconfirmed animal. If it exists, it means the extinct Atlas Bear was not the only bear native to North Africa. The Nandi Bear’s name comes from the Nandi people of Kenya who report it periodically. It is also called the Ngoloko, Duba, Vere, Chimisit and kerit. The name “duba” probably originates from the Arabic word for bear, “dub”, or hyena, “dubbah”.
Given the fact that large bears need several hundred miles of territory per animal to survive, this means the maximum population size for the Nandi Bear is several dozen.
The Nandi Bear is described as having brownish red or dark brown fur. It is said to be the size of a small bear or a large hyena.
The reports of a Nandi Bear may actually be confused reports of a hyena. There is also the remote possibility that the Nandi Bear is a remnant of the Atlas Bear population, though this is unlikely since the Atlas Bear’s range ended around Libya. The closest bear in appearance to the Nandi Bear is the extinct Chalicotherium Bear. This is actually an unlikely relationship, because the Chalicotheres went extinct 780,000 years ago, whereas bears like the Atlas Bear went extinct less than a century and a half ago and the Etruscan Bear disappeared in the past few thousand years.
While insects, fish and plants regularly miss science’s gaze for years. For example, the Nautilus was thought to be extinct since the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs, despite having lived for 500 million years. It was then discovered by accident off the coast of South Africa, known to local fisherman but no one else. However, a large predator is much harder to miss, especially one that reportedly encounters and periodically kills humans. Yet there are reports by hunters of European descent who reportedly shot at it but did not capture one, adding credence to the legend.
The Nandi Bear is described as being four feet tall at the shoulder. The potentially related (and extinct) Atlas Bear was up to nine feet long and a thousand pounds, so the sizes are similar. It is said to have a sloping back, dog-liked body and other traits similar to a hyena. Its spoor or trail seemed to have six pads or claws. Major Braithwaite, a Kenyan colonist, said it had a large snout, large head, and shambling gait similar to that of a bear.
The Nandi Bear is described as a carnivore, preferring to eat the brains of its victims. Brown Bears today are known to be omnivorous, eating roots, berries, insects, and even carrion when available.
The Nandi is supposedly nocturnal. The Nandi people say it prefers to attack people on dark moonless nights, though no predator would only attack its prey once a month. It purportedly lies and waits in trees, behavior more often associated with lions, before reaching down and ripping open the heads of victims. Hyenas are not capable of that maneuver.
If this creature actually exists, its habitat is limited to the mountains of Kenya.
Sterling Lanier speculates that the Nandi Bear is the source of the myth of the Egyptian god Anubis, the way dinosaur bones led to the myth of dragons in Asia and Europe.