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.


11 Replies to “J’ba fofi – Cryptid of the Month”

    • I updated a few things, including wordpress, so maybe that did it. Who knows. The settings on my blogs never fully do what I want. That’s why I never have a featured image and rarely an excerpt. I can’t predict how it will look.

  1. I just noticed the “leave a reply” link is way up top. Took me a while to find it! 😉

    I once spent a very late night trapped by a very-creepy-looking cricket-type creature. It was 2am and everyone else in the dorm-house was asleep and I could hardly scream for someone to come rescue me. So I stood on my bed and tossed a frying pan to trap it under. It took several tries and having to ease my way off the bed and stretch across the floor to retrieve the pan was not fun. I’m pretty sure it eventually got tired of me hurling large metal objects in it’s direction and it went out to the hall whereupon I promptly sealed every space around my door and went to bed. I still don’t know how on earth no one woke up from my clanging. 😉

    • That’s hilarious! Are you still afraid?
      And I don’t know why the reply button appears at the top. I didn’t even see I had comments until today. Usually I’m notified. Sorry about that.

      • Oh yes, I’m still not a fan of bugs or spiders. But I’m even more afraid of them escaping and hiding around the house, so if no one is around, I do whatever I have to to kill or trap them. But if anyone is around, they get the job. My husband has gotten very good at taking care of spiders without me even knowing they were around. I saw a tshirt the other day that I loved. It said “I thought I saw a spider, but it was just a piece of yarn…. It’s dead yarn now.” 😀

        My sister once had a large banana spider on the dashboard of her car. We were talking on the phone as she drove home from work and she had just parked when she saw it and started screaming. I’m so thankful to God that she didn’t see it until she had parked. She ended up emptying a can of spray into her car to kill it, and had my cousin come over to her place to look for the body the next day. But when they couldn’t find it, she traded the car in a few weeks later!! I might have been tempted to do the same, lol.

        My husband has a video of a big, fuzzy spider crawling across his dashboard once. He calmly pulled into a gas station and coaxed it out of the car. I likely would have ended up on the side of the road, calling him to come rescue me. 😉

        • Oh, wow! Now those are some real fears. A spider’s greatest defense is their creepiness. I am also glad your sister was parked, too! That could have been disastrous. My son swears he is scared of spiders because we kept a sort of “pet” spider in our dining room window. I wanted the kids to be able to watch her make webs and catch her food. Apparently that was too gruesome for him. He’s now terrified of spiders.

          • Have you seen the Lucas the Spider videos? Apparently part of the artist’s motivations were to help people get over their fear of spiders and see them nicer. And I have to say I do love the little videos.

            When I was little we lived in Italy for a few years (Air Force brat) and there were a lot of daddy-long-legs around. So they don’t bother me.

            What’s funny is I have vivid memories of catching crickets during recess in third grade. It was one of our favorite things to do. I don’t know why I lost that lack of fear!

            I’m not a huge fan of any bugs, though of course I like butterflies, ladybugs and rolly-pollys. But the only ones I don’t mind holding are the last two. It’s silly but there you go.

          • I haven’t see the videos, but I’ll check them out. Funny how fears set in the older we get. We used to pick up granddaddy long legs and smell their bodies. A naturalist taught my brother an me this when we were kids. Some smell like peppermint, some like potato chips. LOL. Now, you couldn’t pay me to smell one.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.