Photo by Raul654, CC BY-SA 3.0

An African animal so rare that people used to believe it is the mythic ‘unicorn’ has been caught on camera in the wild, for the first time. The okapi is a mammal similar to a deer in the front and to a zebra in the back and with the blue tongue of a giraffe.

It was first discovered only in the 20th century when a British explorer sent home a skin of the animal. A careful look shows that it has a small bump in the corner of its head and due to the fact that even a glimpse of the animal was something very rare, people actually started to believe that they were looking at the unicorn.

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Even in these modern days controversy still remained about the animal, as its ears and behind is what people usually looked at. Also, there has not been a reported sighting for more than 50 years, so many zoologists had started to give up hope, until some tracks were found in 2006 in the Virunga National Park.

Dr Noelle Kumpel, ZSL’s Bushmeat and Forests Conservation Programme Manager is very relieved to see that these amazing animals are not extinct.

“To have captured the first ever photographs of such a charismatic creature is amazing,” he said.
“Okapi are very shy and rare animals – which is why conventional surveys only tend to record droppings and other signs of their presence.”