The okapi (Okapia johnstoni) was long held to be merely a legend, a cryptid. Its existence was finally established in 1901. It lives in the Ituri Forest in Central Africa and that is where it might reasonably expected to be found on the loose.
However, there is a rather startling report of an okapi-like creature in Tasmania. This was reported in the North Western Advocate and Emu Bay Times on April 18th, 1916.
The report says that an animal which sounds very like an okapi was seen drifting out of the water and landing on Hunter Island, off the Tasmanian coast, in 1911. Neck and body were pale brown and the ears white. The haunches were black and white striped. The witness was named H.J. Mather.
If he did indeed see an okapi, how did it reach Australia? It can't have swum there all the way from Africa and I cannot believe a population of okapis is to be found dwelling in the sea. I can only conjecture that it was either:-
(a) a captured okapi in a shipwreck that swam to shore; or
(b) a captive okapi that had escaped from its owner and had
fancied a dip in the sea.
It remains that the likelihood of anyone owning an okapi in the region seems to the present writer very remote. However, you never know. Its presence must remain a mystery.
The information above is taken from Weird Australia, a Kindle book by Andrew Nicholson.
Tuesday, 25 March 2014
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