Our adventure to solve Daisy's Dilemma (see previous post)
began by 4x4 driving 90 minutes south of here to a small grass airstrip. (One of our tires rolled off into the bush part-way through the trip, but I'll write about that another day!) We flew out into the jungle in a very small prop plane and landed at Epulu in the heart of the Ituri Rainforest where there is a small population of the only-known relative of the giraffe: the okapi!
The towering trees all struggle for sunlight and the canopy of trees is some 200 feet above us. This picture of one okapi eating his leafy breakfast gives you an idea of just how tall those trees look from the bottom of the jungle floor!
Due to its remote location, most people don't know the okapi is very elusive. They are not quite 'endangered', but are still frequently poached for food. This was a Center on the Okapi Reserve dedicated to helping the species survive. They have sent okapis to zoos all over the world! These pictures are taken of okapis in captivity at the Center, and even then they would run away if we coughed. We had to stand very still and very silent to see if they would approach us. Somehow anticipation always makes the prize more valuable, and finally getting to see the okapi live in person was amazing! They are majestic. That's the only word that came to mind. Pictures don't do it justice. Their dark brown/black/blue coat plays off the light so beautifully...
So back to our continuing saga...
We finally located Daisy's cousin!
Tatu is her name (which means 'three' in Swahili).
There is not a whole lot of family resemblance other than long, slow strides, big ears and beautiful dark brown eyes.
She was very shy about meeting with us, but very attentive to our news!
She was very excited for her cousin Daisy and has a 4-yr-old boy herself!
And we got a great vacation out of the deal! =)