J’ba fofi – Cryptid of the Month

J’ba fofi means giant spider

J'ba fofi, giant spider of Congo and Cameroon.

 What’s worse than a little spider?


A couple nights ago, Mel hollered out, “Mom come here quick, look at this thing.”

I knew right away it was a spider. I’ve learned her tone of voice. For a girl who can draw the most macabre images, she’s a real shrieker when it comes to spiders. I’ve seen her curl into a little ball on the floor at the sight of a tiny one hanging from the ceiling. This bug was about the size of a dime and had extremely long legs.

“It jumped at me four times,” Mel stood wide eyed, hands folded in front of her chest like she expected the thing to morph into the J’ba fofi.

“That’s not a spider,” I said. “It’s a cricket.” I gave the creepy-crawly a swat (sorry bug lovers. I’m not a fan of fabric-eating pests inside my house, and outside the poor thing would have died a slow, freezing death).

Photo credit: Pedro Luna. Used under Shutterstock standard licensing agreement.

Turned out to be a camel (or cave) cricket. Look at those long legs! These critters don’t bite or sting. Their only defense is to hop toward their predators, hoping their intimidating design will scare it away. Worked on Mel. Ha-ha-ha.

I wasn’t so intimidated by this little guy, but a human-sized tarantula would do me in. How about you? Let’s discuss one that appears to have some credibility.

Cryptid in the Congo

This monster-creature is said to inhabit the forests of Congo and Cameroon. The Baka people of Cameroon say it has a hairy, tarantula like body about three feet across with legs nearing four feet in length. Locals describe the creature as brown in color with a purple mark on the abdomen. They feast on birds and small game. To catch prey, the spiders spin a circular web between trees.

When creating a shelter, the J’ba fofi supposedly weave leaves into the shape of a traditional pygmy hut. They lay peanut-sized eggs in clusters. Locals kill the spider-creature if it nests too close to the village because their large fangs cause quite an irritable bite. While they’re poisonous, the J’ba fofi’s bite rarely kills people.

This cryptid gained the western world’s attention when, in 1938, British Explorer R. K. Lloyd and his wife traveled into the Congo jungles while on their honeymoon. As they were driving down a remote stretch of road, a unique creature crawled out in front of them. Inching closer, they realized it was a giant spider. Before they could take a picture, the creature scurried back into the forest.

I wonder why they didn’t follow?

There’s no actual proof J’ba fofi exists. The last time the Baka saw one was in 2003. A monetary reward has been suggested to entice the locals to kill one and preserve the body. You can learn more about that venture from this intriguing interview on YouTube.

In case you haven’t been creeped out enough

Cryptid creature design by Mel Cabre. J'ba fofi.
Creature design by Mel Cabre

Are you afraid of spiders?

What is the largest spider you have seen in your home?

If you like this creature design, please check out more of Mel’s cryptid designs here. You can also view her original creature designs on Instagram @melcabre2.

If you like this blog post, you might also like this article on the Mongolian Death Worm.