Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Animal of the Week: Okapi

Part giraffe, part zebra, part antelope is what the "spare parts" animal the okapi look s like. Not discovered until 1901 the okapi lives in tropical rainforests of northeast region of Democratic Republic of Congo. At first sight the okapi may look like it is related to the zebra from it's black and white striped rear. However closer inspection shows how it is the only living relative of the giraffe with it's long, blue, prehensile tongue and the male's short, skin-covered horns called ossicones.

If the okapi is a living relative of the giraffe then why are they much shorter, standing at a height of about 5ft compared to a giraffe that can be up to 17-20ft tall? This is simply the result of evolutionary response to living in different habitats. In the rain forests, branches of leaves are lower so the okapi does not require the height, the giraffe does on the African plains.

Okapis are herbivores, eating tree leaves and buds, grass, ferns, fruit, and fungi. Many of the plant species fed upon by the okapi are poisonous to humans. Faeces analysis has also shown that okapis will eat charcoal from trees burnt by lightning strikes.

Finding an okapi is rather difficult to find in the wild. Living in dense rain forest with their water-proof, multi-coloured coat hides them well. They also have strong hearing and will run when they hear humans. Furthermore, they are generally solitary animals, so you are unlikely to find more than one within an area unless it is a mother with young (usually just one) or during breeding times. Males are territorial and will fight off intruders.

Although okapis are not classified as endangered, they are threatened by habitat destruction and poaching. The world population is estimated at 10,000–20,000. 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 San Diego Zoo Global, other zoos and conservation organizations, and the local people, continues to protect and to support study of this rare and unusual forest dweller.

Okapi Medicine
Okapi medicine is that of silent truth. By listening and not reacting, okapi shows us truth without fear.
Okapi suggests we must learn to remove our self from rigid thinking. Okapi also encourages us to meditate more. It is a time to slip through life unseen and unheard.

Tuning into okapi can also give clairvoyant abilities, for they see both the present and the near future.
The okapi’s black and white stripes are associated with spirit and form, density and light and represent polarity on the earth plane. Those who hold this medicine often carry life lessons relating to polarity.

The okapi expresses the concepts of "being different, uniqueness and individuality". This is one of the okapi's greatest gifts. It can also draw on different energies as needed making.

If the okapi has appeared to you recently, it may be trying to pass on a message related to the above information. It may appear in reality, dreams, pictures, conversations or any other form.

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