Monday, July 29, 2019

The Unicorn of the Rain Forest

The mysterious okapi remained a legend to Western scientist until 1900.
Also known as the forest giraffes, they have the body of a horse, striped legs like a zebra, and the males have two small skin covered horns which when seen from the side gave rise to the unicorn fantasy.
Generally solitary and territorial, the Okapi has a thick oily fur that keeps them dry when it rains, and in addition to being a great utensil for eating, their prehensile tongue is a remarkable tool for grooming and is so long they can reach their eyes and ears with it.
           They have scent glands on their feet that spread sticky, tar-like territory markings to alert others of their region. An okapi can eat between 45 and 60 lbs. of vegetation each day, but clay from riverbeds is also important to their diet for minerals and salt.               
     These wonderful African animals are native to the Democratic Republic of Congo and are typically found within the dense Ituri Rain Forest. Once found in Uganda, they are now extinct there.   
After a gestation period of 14-16 months, female okapis typically only give birth to one baby at a time. 

The okapi is listed as endangered because of the rate of population had decline severely. As usual this is due to human habitation and hunting.

Although known to make coughs, bleats and whistles, Okapi are not noted for any distinctive call. However Mothers have an amazing gift of communicating with their calves by infra-sound noises falling below the normal limits of human hearing.
To this day, the Okapi continues to interest and baffle scientist due to its atypical chromosome count. Some had 46 per cell some 44 or 45. Yet they appear normal physically as do their offspring.

No comments:

Post a Comment