01 November 2009

Okapis arrive from Zaire rainforest

I have taken my fair share, actually it’s probably more than my fair share, of wildlife photographs in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The natural world and animal interactions have always fascinated me. Of all the animals in the park, however, the one that have been the most intrigued by, and the least able to capture properly in a photograph, is the okapi. In fact, the best picture I have of an okapi, seen below, only includes the creature in the background.For all the intrigue the okapi has caused me over the years, here’s a great article from the Harambe Weekly Journal that can be found along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. The date given is Tuesday, March 17. While no year is given, it is safe to assume that the article is from Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s opening year of 1998, rather than 2009’s Tuesday, March 17. The article, Okapis arrive from Zaire rainforest, comes from the WDI Newsservice Africa, with the report being compiled by the Africa Correspondent.
Harambe --- Today was a very triumphant day in Harambe’s Wildlife Reserve as Reserve Director Dr. K. Kulunda pleasurably accepted three rare okapis as a permanent addition to the Reserve. The three okapis – two females and a young male – were transplanted to Harambe by way of aircraft from their former home in the Ituri rainforest in Zaire in Central Africa. Very shy and highly solitary, the okapi was unknown to the world outside the Ituri Forest until 1901, when local peoples showed a skin to British explorer Sir Harry Johnston.

It is hoped that the okapis will adapt to life here and create a healthy population outside of the threatened rainforest region.

“We believe that Harambe can provide a safe, new home for these beautiful relatives of the giraffe,” said Dr. Kulunda. “Once – millions of years ago – okapis did live in this part of Africa, so I am considering this a homecoming, not a relocation.”

Dr Kulunda urged the citizens of Harambe to show their support for the Reserve and its Wildlife Conservation School by paying a holiday visit and perhaps catching a glimpse of the very beautiful okapis.

“We may be very proud that we have a Wildlife Reserve well known in the international scientific community,” said Dr. Kulunda, “…but the conservation of our local wildlife will ultimately depend on ourselves and the actions we take.”

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