Often described as a “cave demon,” the Olitiau is an elusive giant bat with a wingspan of 12 feet (3.5 meters), a black body, blood red wings, and two inch (5 cm) serrated teeth. There are stories of these bats from the local tribes in the forests of Cameroon, in West Africa, but the first story to reach the western world came from the biologist Ivan T. Sanderson in 1932. Sanderson was studying Hammer-headed fruit bats, another large bat species, when he was attacked by the largest bat he had ever seen, with wings more than four times as large as a Hammer-headed bat’s.

When Sanderson reported his encounter to the native guides he was with, they became excited and attributed it to what they called the Olitiau, which is a combination of the words “ole” and “ntya,” and which they named after a type of ceremonial mask that was carved in the shape of a demon. According to them, the Olitiau lived in nearby caves and came out at night to feed. There have been no other reported sightings.

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