Described as an immense Elasmosaur-like creature (which can grow from 12 to 100-feet in length) with a long tapering neck, yellowish brown pigmentation and a body which has been compared to a donkey with flippers, the Lau’s most intriguing attribute would have to be the series of bristling, tentacle-like appendages, which allegedly protrude from the animal’s muzzle and aid it in snaring its prey.
That description duly noted there have been other reports which have depicted the beast as being muscular and round, not entirely unlike a monstrous version of the hippopotamus. Still other accounts describe an aquatic “super snake” with legs. Most investigators regard these reports as representing essentially different animals.
The Lau often associated with the LUKAWATA of Lake Victoria, which is connected to Lake No by east Africa’s White Nile. The two animals are said to share numerous characteristics, including a taste for human flesh. The creatures have also been reputed to emit a similar cry, which natives say is reminiscent of the thundering of elephants.
In the late 1800s a Lau was reportedly seen near Waw, Sudan, but the creature’s first brush with international acclaim came in 1914, when a group of Shilluk aborigines reportedly killed a specimen of this creature in the swamps of Addar in order to use its bones to create protective amulets. Sadly this unique beast’s corpse was never recovered by any legitimate scientific body.
Some years later a 12-foot Lau was allegedly seen in Bahr el Zeraf (which forms in the southern Sudd wetlands as an arm of the White Nile) and in 1918 lough gurgling sounds were also reported coming from the region. There is even the account of an anonymous civil servant from the then Belgian Colonial Administration who allegedly reported that he had taken a shot at a Lau, but had unfortunately missed.
In 1924, an aborigine named Bilaltut reportedly gave a British Petty Officer named Stephens a sample of a slain Lau’s vertebra. This was at the request of Uganda’s Provincial Governor, Sir Frederick John Jackson, who was renowned for his penchant for discovering new species. There surfaced some controversy, however, when it was discovered that the aborigine had substituted a Lau bone for that of another animal, in order to keep the coveted talisman for himself.
Finally, in 1937, William Hichens published a photo of a wooden effigy of a Lau’s head that was used in native rituals. The Head was carved by Mshengu she Gunda, a hunter who spent many years in Nile swamps. The creature was also chronicled in John G. Milliais’ book, “Far away up the Nile.”