The okapi, a close relative of the giraffe, is endemic to the tropical forests of central and north-eastern Democratic of Congo (DRC). It is listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List (thanks to an assessment led by ZSL in 2013). ZSL's relationship with the okapi dates back to its official discovery in 1901 by a ZSL Fellow.
Studying okapi genetics
Joint ZSL Insitute of Zoology and Cardiff University PhD student Dave Stanton has been conducting a study of okapi genetics as part of ZSL's range-wide okapi conservation project. The results are expected to inform conservation efforts going into the future.
- Dr Noëlle Kümpel is the manager of ZSL’s Okapi work
Partners and sponsors
ZSL is leading this range-wide okapi project on behalf of ICCN (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature), and relies on the efforts of multiple partners working across the entire okapi range and beyond, including the Okapi Conservation Project, Wildlife Conservation Society, Lukuru Foundation and University of Cardiff.
The project is generously funded by the UK government's Darwin Initiative, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.
- Virunga National Park (http://okapiconservation.org/)
- IUCN SSC Giraffe & Okapi Specialist Group
- IUCN Red List (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/15188/0)
- Okapi Conservation Project (http://okapiconservation.org/)
22-25 May 2013: following months of planning and preparation, ZSL and ICCN hosted a multi-stakeholder okapi workshop in Kisangani, DRC, to develop the first-ever species-wide conservation strategy for the okapi. The workshop highlighted that the okapi is faring worse than scientists previously thought, threatened throughout its range by the presence of dangerous rebels, elephant poachers and illegal miners. Participants agreed on actions needed to secure its persistence in the wild.
26 November 2013: Following a reassessment of the species’ conservation status at the May multistakeholder workshop, the okapi is announced by IUCN as ‘Endangered’ on its Red List, triggering substantial media interest
27 November 2013: A special evening of public talks on okapi conservation and research is held at ZSL’s meeting rooms in London, attracting over 100 people
April 2014: PhD student Dave Stanton has just completed his PhD study of okapi genetics as part of ZSL's range-wide okapi conservation project.