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.
- 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
- IUCN SSC Giraffe & Okapi Specialist Group
- IUCN Red List
- Okapi Conservation Project
- Darwin Initiative
20 January 2015: A new study published in Journal of Zoology and led by Dave Stanton of Cardiff University and ZSL's Institute of Zoology investigates the social structure, mating system and dispersal of okapi through a non-invasive genetic approach. Read the abstract
11 November 2014: A paper published in Oryx by Dave Stanton and his colleagues confirms the presence of okapi in the south-west of Congo River, redefining the distribution of this elusive species. Read the abstract
8 August 2014: We are seeking a hard-working, capable and enthusiastic volunteer to help manage the okapi side of the IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group (GOSG) on behalf of ZSL, as well as provide some support to the GOSG as a whole and for ZSL’s work on okapi in general. Apply here
9 July 2014: Our pioneering genetic study, led by Dave Stanton of Cardiff University and ZSL's Institute of Zoology, is published in PLoS One, showing the okapi's ancient evolutionary origins and unexpected resilience. Find out more
11 June 2014: SOCO oil company agrees to withdraw from Virunga National Park and all other World Heritage Sites. Read more here
28 May 2014: PhD student Dave Stanton passes the viva for his PhD study of okapi genetics as part of ZSL's range-wide okapi conservation project - congratulations, Dave!
17 April 2014: Revealing and heart-stopping film, 'Virunga', supported by ZSL, is premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Watch the trailer
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. Read the abstracts and agenda
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 of Threatened Species, triggering substantial media interest. Read more here
19 September 2013: Emmanuel De Merode receives ZSL's inaugural 'Conservationist of the Year' award on behalf of the rangers of Virunga National Park. Read more here
2 August 2013: Draw the line' campaign is launched to stop oil exploration in Virunga National Park. Read report on our blog
22-25 May 2013: Following months of planning and preparation, ZSL and ICCN hosts a multi-stakeholder okapi workshop in Kisangani, DRC, to develop the first-ever species-wide conservation strategy for the okapi. The workshop highlights 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, and participants agree on actions needed to secure its persistence in the wild. Read our blog
March 2013: The IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group is formally established, with Dr Noelle Kumpel of ZSL co-chair for okapi.
24 June 2012: A shocking rebel attack takes place at the reserve headquarters and nearby village of Epulu in the Okapi Faunal Reserve in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a key field site for ZSL's collaborative range-wide okapi conservation project. Learn more here