Scotland having the unicorn – yes, the unicorn - as its national animal is quite extraordinary and dates back to the 12th century when it was in the Celtic mythology, but did you know it is not the only country with an interesting national animal?
Democratic Republic of Congo – Okapi
It looks like a cross between a zebra and a donkey, but the Okapi is the closest relative to a giraffe and is so rare it was believed to be a mythical creature. It wasn’t until 2008 that the first picture of an Okapi was captured in the wild. Sadly, it is almost becoming a myth again; with less than 10,000 of them left in the wild, it is now an endangered species. It’s natural habitat is the rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which made it its national animal and protected by law.
Panama - Harpy Eagle
Panama’s national bird is near threatened and only found in Central America. Sloths and monkeys especially know the Harpy Eagle. It is one of the most powerful birds of prey and snatches them up in a second. Imagine an eagle with talons the size of bear claws and able to carry up to 10 kilos (1.5 stone). It’s only predators are humans and it’s because of the decline of the forests that it is almost endangered; it needs about 40 square miles for its habitat.
Australia – Red Kangaroo and Emu
The Red Kangaroo and the Emu are of course native to Australia, but so are koalas, echidnas, dingoes, platypus, wallabies, wombats and many birds – so why are just those two on the coat of arms?
It is about a very specific particularity; they cannot go backwards. The kangaroo can only hop forwards and the emu does not have the physical disposition to go backwards. Australians have decided to use this as the animals to represent their country: moving forward, developing and improving – not going back.
Israel – Hoopoe bird
How to recognise a Hoopoe in the wild? It’s easy, you already know its song – hoopoe. You may even have seen one, they migrate to Britain, although they don’t nest here. And they travel a lot; there have been sightings as high up as Mount Everest! The hoopoe is easy to spot with a mane like a lion and zebra-striped wings.
Papua New Guinea – Dugong
When you see the Dugong, you will remember it. It does not resemble any other animal in the sea and is only found in the Red Sea, Japan, the Philippines, East Africa, and Australia.
They can live for over 70 years and grow to almost twice the size of an adult, weighing up to 2000lbs. To sustain that weight, it eats 88lbs of sea grass a day! And their lungs run along their backs to help them float.
If you want to help conserve wildlife, you can check out some of the Wildlife Conservation Projects we run here at Frontier.
By Claire Herbaux
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