Among the Jivaro people of Equador, legend tells of a terrifying monster. It is a river dragon that can change its shape to become any sort of snake. This is the dreaded Iwanci, a serpent spirit who protected snakes from people who might harm or harass them.
Iwanci is most often seen in one of two forms. According to the stories, it can turn itself into a magnificent Pani (anaconda) or an even larger semi-mythical snake called Macanci. Macanci is a cryptid, an animal that straddles the line between real and myth. A steady stream of informal reports and folk takes keep its legend alive, but there has never been scientific proof of its existence.
Of course, we know that anacondas are THE biggest snakes in the world.They’re members of the Boa family and can grow to be over twenty feet long. As such, they take down prey as large as deer, caimans — and humans! (However, there is little documentation of anacondas actually attacking people.) There are four species of anaconda, all found in the Amazonian region. The one we are most familiar with is the green anaconda.
Since anacondas often lurk in the water, people living near rivers and streams would potentially have been in danger. It’s thought that the Jivaro people told stories about Iwanci to keep children away from snakes.