Saturday, January 30, 2010

Camera Critters

Misty is our wonderful hostess for Camera Critters.
Be sure to go and visit.

Today I want to show you the portrait of the animal I fell in love with many years ago on my very
first visit to the Houston Zoo-
the beautiful and shy Okapi.


Okapi


The okapi (pronounced oh-COP-ee) is an unusual animal. With its white-and-black striped hindquarters and front legs, it looks like it must be related to zebras! But take a look at an okapi’s head and you’ll notice a resemblance to giraffes.

The okapi is indeed the only living relative of the giraffe. Like giraffes, okapis have very large, upright ears, which catch even slight sounds, helping them to avoid trouble. They also have long, dark prehensile tongues, just like a giraffe’s, to help them strip the buds and young leaves from the understory brush of their rain forest home.

Okapis are hard to find in the wild. Their natural habitat is the Ituri Forest, a dense rain forest in central Africa (northeast region of Democratic Republic of Congo - formerly Zaire). Okapis are very wary, and their highly developed hearing alerts them to run when they hear humans in the distance. In fact, while natives of the Ituri Forest knew of okapis and would occasionally catch one in their pit traps, scientists did not know of the animal until 1900. The secretive nature of okapis and the difficulty most humans have of traveling in their habitat have made okapis hard to observe in the wild. Therefore, researchers can only estimate how many okapis live there. It is believed that there are currently about 25,000 okapis in the wild.

The okapi’s dark purplish or reddish brown fur feels like velvet. It’s also oily, so water slides right off, keeping the okapi dry on rainy days. Only the males have horns, which are covered by skin and are short so they won’t get tangled in forest branches.

The changing politics of central Africa and the continued loss of habitat threaten the beautiful okapi. Fortunately, in 1952, one-fifth of okapi habitat in Africa’s Ituri Forest was set aside as a wildlife reserve. The Okapi Wildlife Reserve, with support from zoos and conservation organizations, and the local people, continues to protect and to support study of this rare and unusual forest dweller.


Happy Camera Critters!


(Information about the Okapi from the San Diego Zoo.)




26 comments:

Maria-Thérèse afiori.com said...

I meant to do an online search for okapis when I saw it in your Flickr stream but forgot. Okapi! Okapi! I love it! And this: "The secretive nature of okapis..." :D

Maybe they're related to unicorns.

studioJudith said...

What an incredible animal ... .
Thanks for the introduction
and
for stopping by my blog!

Jjj

dosfishes said...

What a gorgeous animal, so soft looking and refined. Love to see one for real. Thanks for sharing.

Joops said...

Beautiful portrait!

Flock of Starlings

Carletta said...

What an awesome looking animal! I don't think I've ever heard of these until today. Thanks for sharing this unique animal with us.
Carletta’s Captures.

roostreehouse said...

Ohh, so sweet and precious is that little okapi! i want to name him opie and tell him secrets.

awesome photo. ooohhh, he melts my heart!

Happy Saturday, Snappy!
XOXOXOXOXO

roostreehouse said...

PS - forgot to say
LOVING
COMPLETELY
the header!
GO RED!!!

Ladynred said...

What an interesting animal. I've never seen one before. Thanks for the info!
Chicken'hens

Jenn Jilks said...

Stunning animal. Thank you for sharing it and telling its story.
What we do to the earth and its creatures...
Thank you for visiting My Muskoka !

Tink *~*~* said...

Disney's Animal Kingdom park has a few okapi. They do, indeed, look like God had spare parts from zebras and giraffes just lying around and decided to make an okapi out of them!

Tink *~*~*

Helena said...

What a beautiful "critter". Thanks for the great post. :)

eileeninmd said...

It is a beautiful animal. Great photo and thanks for sharing the info.

KaHolly said...

My sister recently ret'd from a vacation to AZ. While there, she visited the zoo. She took a photo of an okapi and said she thought it was part zebra. I can't wait to tell her what it is! Thanks for stopping by my site. I appreciate making the connection. ~karen

Denise said...

Lovely photo and what a very interesting and beautiful animal the Okapi is. Great facts, enjoyed your post very much, thank you!

eden said...

Such beautiful portrait.Love it.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Neat post, Snap.... I have never seen nor heard of an Okapi before. What a pretty face... I enjoyed learning about them. Thanks so much!
Hugs,
Betsy

Janet said...

I just keep learning new things when I come here. What a beautiful animal! I never heard of it before.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Beautiful animal, I don't think I have seen one in any of my zoo trips.

Lisa said...

The Okapi IS beautiful! I've never seen one that close before.

~ Kathy ~ said...

Great post of a beautiful unique Critter. Okapi, okapi, okapi such a cute name!!
Thanks for stopping by!! Have a great weekend!

Willard said...

A informative post and a beautiful photo of a beautiful animal!

Barb said...

Now I must look if we have the amazing Okapi at the Denver Zoo. It's sweet face looks so wistful.

Smalltown RN said...

I have never seen an animal like this..I can see why you enjoyed it...you got a great photo of it....

Barbara said...

So pretty. And they do look like giraffes. Beautiful picture! I always love your zoo pics.

Johnny Nutcase said...

what an awesome and unique animal, so pretty

Your EG Tour Guide said...

I'm so glad they're being protected!