The okapi (Okapia johnstoni), a close relative of the giraffe, is endemic to the tropical forests of central and north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It is listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List (following 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. The size of a small horse, the ‘forest giraffe’ has a chocolate brown coat with distinctive white stripes on its legs and hindquarters, and a 30 cm long, purplish-blue tongue adapted for browsing trees like its better-known cousin.
- Dr Noëlle Kümpel is the manager of ZSL’s okapi work and co-chair of the IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group.
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 has been generously funded by the UK government's Darwin Initiative, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, the European Commission, the Natural Environment Research Council, SOS – Save Our Species and Fondation Segré.
Okapi at ZSL London Zoo
You can see okapi for yourself at ZSL London Zoo – and hear first-hand from our okapi keeper Gareth what inspired him to work with these amazing animals.
- IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group
- Okapi Conservation Strategy and Status Review
- Virunga National Park
- IUCN Red List
- Okapi Conservation Project
- Darwin Initiative
- ZSL report on the conservation status of okapi in Virunga
- ZSL okapi project info sheet (2010)
- ZSL on the discovery of the okapi
- Okapi at ZSL London Zoo
- Facts about okapi