Well, not really lies, but untruths. As perhaps the only person blogging on Scienceblogs.com who has actually eaten an okapi (Okapi johnstoni), I feel the need to clarify some misconceptions that are floating around about this beast.
If you go to the Sb home page, you’ll find numerous links to the current Okapi story, about how the first photographs of a wild okapi have been obtained, and how the okapi was thought to have been wiped out due to the current civil war. I do not have time to write extensively about this right now, but I’ll make a few points.
First, it is not the case that wild okapis have not been photographed before. Of course they have, though quite rarely. This might be (not verified) such a photograph:
This is from one of several books by Gatti on the Congo.
Second, no one thought the okapi was wiped out by the civil war. This assertion was made only for one of the several patches of forest they live in. They still need protection and we are all terribly worried about them, but nobody actually thought they were totally wiped out.
Third, “okapi” is pronounced in one of two ways, either with the K or without (and a glottal stop in it’s place … oh [stop] OP eee) and it is one of the very few words that you know in the Kilese language, the language of many of the people (including most of the Pygmies) of the Ituri Forest. itene talu teseba erembe rachanini. There, now you now a few more words but I’m not going to tell you what they mean because it’s kinda dumb.
This is a tonal language, so if you say the name of this animal wrong, you could be saying something you don’t mean. (not really likely, though, if you’ve got the context down. Like no one is going to think you are saying “Hey, where do I get my fur coat cleaned” while you are pointing at the picture of the Okapi in the animal guide book.)
By the way, although you probably don’t know much Kilese, you might actually know some cognates in other Afro-Asiatic languages. To the chagrin (quite frankly) of the average Israeli or Arab, Hebrew and Arabic are run of the mill African Languages and words like Ima and Afa (mom and dad) tend to be very similar in all of these languages (as is true for any language family). So when a baby Lese or baby Pygmy or baby Tel Avivian or a baby Saudi utters her first word, it’s all pretty much the same word.
And yes, they do taste like certain parts of the local elephants. I’ve only had okapi once, and it was a very unusual situation that I may tell you about another time.
Finally, when they run, they sound like a horse. But invisible.