Vorompatra

Aepyornithidae

The Vorompatra (Malagasy for marsh bird) is an enormous bird allegedly living in the swamps and shrublands of Southern Madagascar. The vorompatra would most likely be a surviving population of elephant birds. They were a family of birds native to Madagascar that were related to ostriches and emus that could reach 10 feet tall and was thought to have died out in the early 1600s. 

The first report of surviving elephant birds was by Admiral Étienne de Flacourt, governor of Madagascar in his book Histoire de la grande isle de Madagascar from 1658. In his account, he described the vorompatra as a massive ratite (the family of birds including ostriches, emus and rheas) that lives deep in the vast swamps of Androy in the southernmost parts of Madagascar. 

The vorompatra laid massive eggs resembling an ostrich’s. From the mid-1830s to 1850, multiple French explorers collected various giant bird eggs, some of which were still intact and looked brand new in various parts of Madagascar. The largest egg they collected was 34 cm long. According to a report by a missionary in 1867, the locals claimed that the vorompatra was still around, but were in very small numbers and were only briefly glimpsed. 

In 1980, biologist and cryptozoologist Roy Mackal was told by locals that the vorompatra hasn’t been seen in decades, but the “smaller kind” of vorompatra, likely the Mullerornis, was still regularly being encountered. The most recent sightings known to cryptozoologists was in 1998, which prompted conservationist Barry Ingram to start an expedition, but was unsuccessful in capturing one.

An elephant bird reconstruction