Two days ago, I received an email from a Belgian man who has lived in Africa, for at least forty years, working in public service. I’ll mostly let his email tell the account of his encounter with an apparent pterosaur in Namibia.
It was on a Saturday/Sunday morning just having finished breakfast, ~10:00, late April/early May 2011 – this is Southern African autumn! I was sitting in the garden . . . when I saw a large bird gliding, moving its wings very, very slowly, very much as we see raptors or eagles do when they circle in the air scanning the land for prey. I paid attention to the wings as it would allow for identification – but this bird did not have any feathers, at least not any spread primary feathers (as eagles often show). It looked more like a large bat. . . .
It showed a long, very long, slim neck (like of cranes or flamingos) . . . The overall colour of neck-cum-head-cum-beak was bright (whitish?). The colour of the body-and-wings was brownish, with a lighter patch of greenish-brown covering 3/4 of the underside of the wings. . . .
The wings span was about double the distance of beak-tip to end-of-tail. I cannot remember details of the tail, but thought that two legs and a strange looking longer tail or appendix were visible, parallel to one another. . . .
At the time of observation the sun was at 30-40° height and the bird was at 3-o’clock to 5-o’clock position relative to the sun. Flight direction was SE to NW. From my (seated) position the bird passed at 15-30° from the vertical (that is why I could not make out details of any beak(bill) or head). Sky was blue with hardly any cloud. Estimated altitude of bird above ground (based on comparison to small planes taking-off from or landing at the small airport of Windhoek) was about 200+ metres.
The eyewitness estimated the wingspan, but I’m not yet sure what he means by “wingspan,” for he mentioned the planes flying overhead as having wingspans of “5-7 metres.” That seems too small a wing-tip-towing-tip for even the smallest private planes, so I assume he meant the length of one wing. At any rate, he estimated the flying creature had a wingspan about half of that of the airplanes he sees flying overhead; it was a large flying creature.
Manta Rays and Stingrays do not fly over jungle canopies
Hodgkinson and his army buddy, in 1944, were nowhere near the seashore, when they stopped in a small jungle clearing well inland from Finschhafen, New Guinea (now Papua New Guinea). The giant creature took off from the ground, soon flying over the trees. No Manta ray was involved.
Kongamato of Africa
. . . living along certain rivers, and very dangerous, often attacking small boats, and anybody who disturbed the creature. They are typically described as either red or black in color, with a wingspan of 4 to 7 feet.