U is for… Ugunqu-kubantwana

Ugunqu-kubantwana is the Mother of the Animals, a colossal Zulu monster who protects animals and guards a lake with water that tastes like milk. Her mouth is like a cleft in a mountain, her legs like pillars. Forests grow on her back. She is seconded by four oribis who act as her lieutenants. Like the similar Usilosimapundu she is less a creature and more a force of nature. Her name comes from the sound she makes as she moves – gunqu, gunqu, gunqu!

T is for… Trollgädda

The Trollgäddor or “troll pikes” are enormous pikes that haunt lakes in Sweden. The one in Lake Bolmen is as long as the lake is wide, and has a willow shrub on its head. One enterprising angler tried to catch it with a line baited with an entire calf and tied to a farmhouse, but the pike pulled the farmhouse into the lake.

R is for… Rosmaputh

The Rosmaputh is a hideous creature found in the Caspian Sea. It has a man’s head covered with bristles and armed with long sharp teeth. It has a long neck, scaleless skin, broad shoulders, and flippers that reach to the tail. Its tongue is shaped like a laurel leaf. When out of the water it screams nightmarishly.

Q is for… Qique

Another of the many monstrous man-eaters of the Shan Hai Jing, the Qique or Qi-magpie looks like a white-headed chicken with rat’s feet and tiger’s claws. It lives on North Shouting Mountain.