Ikimizi a Rwandan mystery cat

In various countries on the African continent including Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya, people believe in a mystery spotted cat which is a leopard/lion hybrid. In Rwanda they call this mystery cat ‘Ikimizi’. In Uganda they are called Ntararago and in Kenya they are called Marozi.

The Ikimizi is said to have a spotted gray coat and a beard under the chin.

However, it seems incredibly rare that a female leopard will mate with a male lion in the wild. There appears to be no hard evidence of it. Although, in India they have a tradition of hybrids such as the leopard/tiger hybrid known as the Dogla.

Young lioness with spots from an old postcard
Young lioness with spots from an old postcard. Image in the public domain.
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Sarah Hartwell, as of 1990 approximately, reported that the source of mystery cats in the wild are based upon appearance and on local myth.

Dr. Desmond Morris said that although a spotted lion might encourage people to believe that it is a hybrid between a leopard and a lion, the more likely reason would be that they are looking at an adult lion which had failed to lose its juvenile spotting.

Lion cubs have spotting or rosettes for camouflage. They normally lose these markings when they become adults. There are numerous sightings of spotted lions.

In the confines of a zoo there have been a number of matings between leopards and lions to create leopons but Dr. Desmond Morris, a respected zoologist, states that there have been no authenticated records of such hybrids occurring naturally in the wild.

He states with some confidence that the Ikimizi is really a myth and the legend rather than a reality.

Against that reasonable theory there is the fact, as mentioned, that these mystery cats are regarded as real in other African countries.

My personal thoughts are that they are not real because people love to have a mystery cat out there in the countryside.

It isn’t just in Africa where this phenomenon occurs. In the UK there are many big cat sightings. None of them hold up to scrutiny.

It is as if people want there to be a mystery cat out there in the dark. It has to be a big cat and preferably black to make it even more mysterious.

It seems to be in the human DNA to desire this kind of “monster” haunting them. I think it is inherited in our DNA from eons past when humans genuinely had to fight with big cats in order to survive.

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