The Kilopilopitsofy, Kidoky, and Bokyboky: Accounts of Strange Animals from Belo-sur-mer, Madagascar, and the Megafaunal "Extinction Window":

David A. Burney

In July and August 1995, the authors interviewed elderly Malagasy with knowledge of the traditions and natural history of their home areas, centered on the villages of Belo-sur-mer, Antsira, and Ambararata, on the southwest coast of Madagascar.

Several individuals related personal experiences in which they claim to have seen and heard animals that do not match any known extant animal of Madagascar. Two of the mystery animals, known locally as the kilopilopitsofy and kidoky, were described in terms similar to creatures detailed in historical accounts and folklore recorded in Madagascar between the mid-1600s and the end of the nineteenth century. The former of these has been compared by some authors to the dwarf hippopotamus and the latter to a giant lemur, animals generally inferred from radiocarbon dating of last known occurrences to have gone extinct early in the present millennium or perhaps a few centuries later.

Stories by these same informants concerning extant animals demonstrate their accurate knowledge of the fauna. Magical powers are ascribed to some animals, such as the bokyboky, a viverrid (Mungotictis) that occurs in the region. Radiocarbon dates obtained recently on some of the extinct megafauna, showing that some extirpated taxa may have survived until recent centuries, confirm that ethnographic sources of information on these species should not automatically be dismissed as irrelevant or unreliable. [Madagascar, extinctions, megafauna, hippopotamus, lemur]

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