An excerpt from the zoological text The Hunter’s Encyclopedia of Animals (First Edition).
CHAPTER V: An overview of the white kirin
The kirin (Psevdaisthisi
chaetes) is an electrogenic ungulate, and one of two species in the
The commonly used term white kirin
collectively refers to the three recognized subspecies. Despite numerous
references to it being an equid, the kirin is not a true horse, but rather a
phylogenetic relative belonging to the suborder Hippomorpha. While horses and their immediate relatives adapted to
grasslands, the kirin diverged away from the equid lineage, instead retaining
its ancestral traits for woodland dwelling. A combination of folivorous
dentition and leg morphology allowed the kirin to flourish in forest
ecosystems. To date, the kirin’s range includes the jungles, temperate forests,
and taiga of Goldorolis. Wide distribution across several biogeographic realms
has resulted in many genetically diverse subpopulations. Proximity to the equator,
ecotone habitation, and climatic conditions influence exaggeration of
phenotypes, and greatly restrict polymorphism. An adult kirin can measure from
494 to 676 centimeters in length and weigh between 317 to 476 kilograms
(roughly 700 to 1050 pounds), depending on the subpopulation. Both sexes can
live between 30 to 34 years of age.
the jaw morphology is suited for non-graminoid mastication, kirins primarily
eat soft plant matter. Subtropical and temperate kirins consume 60% fruit and
25% leaves. The remaining 15% includes a combination of seeds, shoots, flowers,
and nuts. Kirins found 40° N of the equator depend almost exclusively on
the foliage of deciduous trees, perennial herbaceous plants, and berries
endemic to middle boreal forests. Kirins live in small nuclear families
year-round that consist of the parents and biological offspring. Largescale
aggregation only occurs in the early spring, when kirin natal herds and
bachelor herds convene in one location to reform their seasonal breeding herd.
Reformation of the breeding herd begins in the spring, and coincides with the
onset of the female’s estrous cycle. Herd dissimilation back into separate
family units occurs at the beginning of autumn, when anestrus begins.
among mammals, the kirin is bioelectrogenic, capable of discharging up to 600 V
from the apex of its horn. The only other mammal to share this feature with P. chaetes is the rajang (Rakshasa pugilis).
The eastern jinouga (Hoplycan orientalis)—once thought to be another electrogenic mammal—was found to rely on a symbiotic relationship with
fulgurbugs (Lampyris tonans). The kirin’s silverhorn serves a secondary function as a
defense mechanism for goring predators. Because of the horn’s value in
traditional medicine and as part of religious ceremonies, there was a sharp
population decline 125 years ago. Management efforts through the CDIHG in the
last twenty years have restored the species’ numbers to an estimated 300,000
individuals globally. Although classified as near threatened, hunting is still
legal during the fall and winter. Hunting bans are placed on kirins during the
reformation of the breeding herd, in order to limit human casualties and avoid
disruptions to their reproduction.
other so-called “elder dragons,” the kirin isn’t widely associated with
malignant characteristics. It’s often regarded as a symbol of luck, wit, and
merciful judgment, and has strong ties to alchemy. Body parts are used in a
range of products, from braided kinhair jewelry, to alicorn-fashioned hunting
equipment, to even home decor.
Paintbrush (Castilleja Parviflora) adds rich color to alpine and subalpine
meadows in the Cascade Range of Oregon and Washington. In some areas such as
the North Cascades, the brushes are white (middle right photo) instead of
the rose pink and magenta coloration seen elsewhere. The colorful brush is
actually the leafy bracts that surround the greenish tubular flowers.
The Pine Forest Range, in northern Nevada’s Great Basin, is a rare and exceptional area of abundant streams and clear, cold subalpine lakes. Nestled in a cirque and fed by snowmelt and springs, these lakes are not only visually stunning but also possess an excellent trout fishery. The lakes are surrounded by a rare population of white bark and limber pines; stands of aspen and mountain mahogany are also found throughout the area. Fall brings out colors found in few other places in northern Nevada.
Delphinium nuttallianum is in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. Commonly known as twolobed larkspur, it is native to much of western North America. Twolobed larkspur is a herbaceous perennial found in meadows and forest openings in montane and subalpine habitats. Compared to other species of larkspur, twolobed larkspur is often found at higher elevations, generally above 7,000 feet. This species produces pairs of finely dissected leaves close to the ground, while the inflorescence can grow up to 2 feet tall and hold many vibrant blue flowers that open during the early spring.
“Avalanche lilies are white and glacier
lilies are yellow” is a common statement in the park this time of year. For
quick identification it is true enough. Glacier lilies (Erythronium
grandiflorum) are yellow. Avalanche lilies (Erythronium montanum) are mostly white. However, avalanche lilies
are actually bicolor! Their petals have two colors – primarily white but yellow
at the base. Avalanche lilies are currently blooming in abundance throughout
the subalpine regions of the park.
NPS photo of
avalanche lilies in Paradise, 7/11/17. Description: A cluster of flowers with
white petals and yellow centers. ~kl
Tower of jewels, red bugloss, Tenerife bugloss or Mount Teide bugloss (Echium wildpretii).The plant grows in the subalpine zone of the ravines of Mount Teide. It requires a lot of sun and is found in arid and dry conditions, but it tolerates frost down to -5 C.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, Northern Colorado. May 2017.
RMNP spans 415 square miles, and having only one day to sample some of what this spectacular park has to offer was downright agonizing. We hiked montane and subalpine ecosystems, relishing the spruce and fir forests. Pictured here are Sprague Lake and its surrounding trails, as well as views of the Rockies & wildlife encountered near the south central park entrance. Having traveled at the beginning of the spring season, most campgrounds and facilities we stumbled upon were still deserted. Above: a Lincoln’s sparrow, and juvenile male elk.