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In 1876 a German zoologist mounted an expedition to hunt a man-eating antelope that is still terrorising rural people all over the island. A young man from Eloi’s village tried to escape a songaomby by climbing a tree. “This was very silly,” my guide explained, “because everybody knows that it plays a wicked trick to get you down. It stood underneath the tree and – how you say?…it peed. The pee burns like acid. He fell out of the tree when he got splashed and the songaomby ate him.”

The songaomby is like a fat bull with no horns and un-cloven hooves. Some scientists believe that spraying-urination technique and the man-eating (or at least killing with the teeth) attributes could be derived from a pygmy hippopotamus that became extinct after the arrival of man, about 2,000 years ago.