This weekend has inadvertently been about featuring animals with interesting bums as we move on to the okapi. After yesterday’s color explosion, I decided to try a quick little doodlewash with a limited palette, due in part to my equally limited time today. The wonderfully unique and unfortunately endangered okapi is a solitary and elusive creature that can only be found in the dense, lowland rain forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Despite sporting the bottom of a zebra, its actually the only living relative to a giraffe, earning it’s more common nickname of “forest giraffe.”
These are extremely solitary creatures making it incredibly rare to actually see one in the wild. For years, Congo natives would talk of the animal, but no Europeans had actually ever seen one, so it quickly obtained a mythical appeal and was dubbed the “African unicorn.” Also, okapis use infrasonic calls to communicate with their calves in the dense forests that cannot be heard by humans. These skills and the amazing ability to play a sort of hide and seek with predators using their incredible hearing make them easily elusive as a unicorn.
Other key components of the okapi include an unusually long tongue that is primarily used to wrap around the leaves they eat, but is also handy in grooming their babies. It’s so long, in fact, they can even groom themselves, since they can lick their entire face and ears. Though beautifully marked, they have scent glands in their feet that leave behind a tar-like substance to mark their territory. So, in the case of the okapi, beauty comes at the price of really stinky feet. If there’s an uncommon creature that you’d like to see doodlewashed next, don’t forget to shout it out in the comments.
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham watercolors: Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Neutral Tint and Titanium White Gouache. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal
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Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!