J’ba Fofi

The J’ba fofi is an alleged giant spider that lives in the dense rainforest regions of Central and East Africa.

Reports of the creature originated among the Baka people (formerly known as pygmies) who live in the rainforests of southeastern Cameroon, the northern Republic of the Congo, Gabon, and the southwest region of the Central African Republic.

Reports also come from among the Twa people (also formerly known as pygmies) who live in the great lakes regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, and as far east as Lake Nyasa.

The name j’ba fofi reportedly means “Great spider.”


The J’ba fofi is a giant spider native to the rainforest regions of Congolese Central Africa.

Native Congolese descriptions of the J’ba fofi’s appearance led some cryptozoologists to propose it could be a species of arachnids unknown to science.

The accounts of the giant spider’s appearance and behavior don’t have sufficient detail. They are also often contradictory. So it is only possible to speculate about the alleged species and note the various contradictory descriptions.

The j’ba fofi may reach up to 5 feet

Alleged eyewitness descriptions by the Baka and Twa people suggested that the giant spider had a leg span of about 3-5 feet.

For comparison, the largest known spider species is the South American Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi). Its leg span may reach one foot.

Experts consider the King Baboon Spider (Pelinobius muticus) the largest species of African spider. Their leg span may reach 8 inches.

The species is native to the shrublands and grasslands of East Africa.

The j’ba fofi lives in burrows

The J’ba fofi lives in the dense forest undergrowth, according to the Baka. It lives concealed in shallow burrows dug just below the soil surface and under half-exposed roots of forest plants and trees.

William J. Gibbon

While on an expedition to find the legendary sauropod-like aquatic Mokele-mbembe in Congo, the cryptozoologist William J. Gibbons met Baka natives who regaled him with stories about a giant spider called the J’ba fofi.

According to the natives, the j’ba fofi,  or “great spider,” has a brown or dusky color. It has a purple mark on the underside and lays a cluster of white or yellowish eggs about the size of peanuts.

Newly hatched spiders also have a yellowish color but darker undersides. Mature individuals are darker than juvenile ones.

The arachnid’s leg span may reach up to 5 feet, according to native accounts.

The j’ba fofi’s hunting behavior

The spider camouflages its burrow using leaves instead of a trapdoor.

They use forest leaves to create a structure similar to a small hut. The leaves conceal the entrance to their sub-surface burrows.

The spider then spins a network of sticky, strong, and tensile webs below the forest canopy. The webs stretch between forest trees.

The spider also spins a signal line that extends from the network of webs to its lair hidden beneath vegetation and leaves on the forest floor.

The web structure extends from the burrow to cover an area of space several feet across. The spider secures the edges of the web network to nearby branches and other natural structures. It ensures that its burrow is on the outer edge of the network.

It then extends a signal line from the structure to its burrow and waits for prey to trip the line.

The spider’s webs trap beetles, insects, and spiders. Some accounts claim the webs are strong enough to trap birds and small forest ungulates.

The Baka told Gibbons they avoided the spider because it was a highly venomous creature with huge fangs. It produced venom that could kill a grown man.

According to some sources, the natives developed construction methods to spider-proof their homes.

Sightings and Tales

The j’ba fofi might have gone extinct

Congolese natives claimed j’ba fofis were plentiful in the forest in the past and that sightings were common.

However, the alleged species became rare as human population growth encroached on their habitats and degraded the forest environment.

Some cryptozoologists believe that if the species existed in the past, they might have gone extinct.

Arthur John Simes

The British missionary Arthur John Simes was the first European to report sighting the j’ba fofi.

While traveling in the forest near Lake Nyasa in the 1890s, he and his party allegedly stumbled upon evidence of a giant spider.

Simes and his men became entangled in a network of tensile webs. The webs were so sticky that they couldn’t free themselves.

While using a knife to cut through the webs, two enormous spiders, about 4 feet across, emerged from hiding. They attacked the men and bit them. Sims reportedly shot the spiders with his pistol.

The spider bite victims later developed swellings, chills, fatigue, fever, pallor, and delirium. Their conditions deteriorated until they died despite treatment.

Some accounts claimed that Sims also fell ill and died from spider venom.

Mr. and Mrs. R.K. Lloyd

According to an account by cryptozoologist George Eberhart in his Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology (2002), a British couple, Mr. and Mrs. R.K. Lloyd, encountered the giant j’ba fofi in 1938 while traveling in what was then known as the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC).

While driving through a forested region, they saw a creature resembling a small cat or a monkey crossing the road ahead. But when they came closer, they realized it was a spider about 3-4 feet across.

An alleged J’ba fofi video

A video emerged on YouTube in 2013 that purported to show footage of a j’ba fofi captured on camera.

The footage allegedly shot using a night vision camera positioned close to a waterhole in Mozambique (see video below), showed a furry creature scurrying across the frame.


Experts have questioned the possibility of a species of arachnids spanning 3-5 feet across. They noted that spiders have primitive respiratory systems that can only support a small heart.

Thus, a spider up to 3-5 feet across will likely suffer serious challenges maintaining blood circulation.

Biologists also argued that a spider about 3-4 feet across would suffer significant challenges moving around due to a heavy exoskeletal frame.

Some biologists have suggested natives might have exaggerated their accounts of the j’ba fofi. Others might have mistaken other species of spiders, such as the King Baboon Spider (Pelinobius muticus), for a cryptid.

Other Name/sGreat Spider
LocationBurundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 
HabitatForest, Jungle


Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, Eberhart, George M. (2002)

http://www.actforlibraries.org/possibility-of-the-existence-of-the-congolese-giant-spider/, “Possibility of the Existence of the Congolese Giant Spider,” accessed on March 23, 2023.

https://www.livescience.com/56525-goliath-birdeater-spider-photos.html#:~:text=The%20South%20American%20Goliath%20birdeater%20(Theraphosa%20blondi)%20is%20the%20world’s,(170%20grams), “Goliath Birdeater: Images of a Colossal Spider,” accessed on March 23, 2023.

https://medium.com/creatures/bigger-than-dinner-plates-e938e9157501, “Bigger Than Dinner Plates: The nightmare of the J’ba Fofi,” accessed on March 23, 2023.

https://www.africasgiants.org/natures-giants-news/the-spider-king-of-africa#:~:text=The%20King%20Baboon%20Spider%20(Pelinobius,is%20a%20species%20of%20tarantula.&text=Tarantulas%20are%20the%20kings%20of,spiders%20that%20have%20ever%20lived, “The Spider King of Africa,” accessed on March 23, 2023.

https://www.wolfenhaas.com/post/j-ba-fofi-giant-spiders-in-the-congo, “J’ba Fofi – Giant Spiders in the Congo,” accessed on March 23, 2023.

Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

[…] out the J’ba fofi page for more […]