Okapi

Scientific name 
Okapia johnstoni
Okapi

What they look like

The only living relative of the giraffe, the okapi also has a long prehensile tongue that it uses to dextrously grab branches and leaves. They have large upright ears and highly developed hearing allowing them to evade potential predators and to remain hidden. The fur is thick, velvety and oily. They are largely reddish brown with striped zebra-like front and hind quarters providing them with a natural camouflage in dense rainforest.

Animal facts

Shy and elusive animals, okapis were only discovered by western zoologists from ZSL (Zoological Society of London) in 1901.They were well known to the Congolese forest people before this time.  Generally solitary animals, female okapis only make vocal sounds during their mating season. A new born okapi can stand within 30 minutes of birth and triples in size by two months old.

What they eat

Okapis can eat over 100 different types of plants including their leaves, bark and fruit.

Habitat

Dense rainforest

Where they live

Central and north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, central Africa

Threats

Although hidden deep in the forest, okapis are threatened by habitat loss and hunting, leading to a fall in numbers. Natural predators include leopards.

ZSL's conservation work with okapis

Because of its shy nature and the challenges of fieldwork in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, obtaining accurate and up to date information on the okapi has been a major conservation challenge. In 2010, ZSL started a collaborative effort to carry out the first range-wide conservation status review of this little-known but iconic species. This research led to the reassessment of the okapi as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and laid the foundations for the development of the first okapi conservation strategy, which outlines the conservation measures to be taken to ensure the persistence of this species in the future.

Discover more about our work with this endangered species >

Population
Endangered
Order
Artiodactyla
Family
Giraffidae
Life span
25 years