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In Frank W. Lane's 1954 issue of Nature Parade, Patrick Bowen, a hunter who tracked the Mngwa at one time, remarked that the animal's tracks were like those of the leopard but much larger. The Mngwa was also described to have brindled fur that was visibly different from that of a leopard. Lane believed that the attacks reported in the 19th century by the Chimiset, associated with the Nandi Bear, might actually have been attacks by the Mngwa.
Bernard Heuvelmans speculated Mngwa to be an abnormally colored specimen of a known species, or that it may even be a larger subspecies of the African golden cat.