Okapi | Facts & Information

# Okapi | Facts & Information

Okapi | Discover Fascinating Facts and Information About Okapi

Okapi (Okapia johnstoni) belongs to the genus Okapia, the family Giraffidae and the order Artiodactyla. It is a herbivorous animal found in the tropical montane forests of Africa. It can be found in the forests of Congo at an altitude of 500-1000m. it prefers areas with water sources, especially flowing water. It has a limited area of natural barriers, so it has an area of 63,000 square km. Part of this area has been converted into a nature reserve for okapi.

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The Okapi, scientifically known as Okapia johnstoni, is a fascinating species that belongs to the Giraffidae family. This animal is endemic to the Ituri region in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a country located in central Africa. The Okapi is often associated with the giraffe due to their physical similarities, however, despite appearances, the two species are not closely related.

The distinctive feature of the Okapi is its unique fur design. Its body has a dark brown or black shade, while its legs have a distinct white color. This combination of colors allows the Okapi to perfectly camouflage itself in the dense tropical environment of the forests, providing it with protection against hunters and other predators. Additionally, attractive darker stripes cover the lower part of its legs and the posterior part of its back, providing additional protection as it moves through the dense vegetation.

With a height at the shoulder of approximately 1.5 meters and weighing up to 250 kilograms, the Okapi is a medium-sized animal compared to other African mammals. However, its size does not hinder its agility and its ability to move easily through the forest. The Okapi has a long neck and an elongated tongue, which it uses to easily reach the leaves and high shoots during feeding.

The main diet of the Okapi consists of leaves, fruits, and shoots from trees in the tropical forests. To obtain this food, the Okapi uses its long and flexible tongue to reach the upper parts of the plants. Additionally, this animal relies on its silent and quick movements to approach plants without disturbing the surrounding environment too much.

Unfortunately, the survival of the Okapi is currently threatened by habitat loss and illegal hunting. Deforestation for agriculture and logging has led to the destruction of the tropical forests, the primary habitat of the Okapi. As a result, these animals face a lack of food and a weaker protected environment. Furthermore, illegal hunting is another major threat to the Okapi, as its valuable fur and meat are sought after on the black market.

In order to conserve the Okapi species, measures have been taken in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries where these animals live in the wild. National parks and nature reserves have been created to protect the Okapi's habitat and reduce the impact of human activities on the surrounding environment. Additionally, raising awareness about the value and vulnerability of this unique animal is promoted among the local and international population.

In conclusion, the Okapi is a remarkable animal whose unique characteristics differentiate it from other African species. Naturally adapted to its environment, this animal is key to the biological diversity of the tropical forests in the Ituri region and needs to be protected to ensure its survival. With proper conservation efforts, we can hope that the Okapi will continue to live and inspire future generations with its beauty and importance in African ecosystems.










It was recognized as a distinct species in the early 20th century. It is a shy animal rarely seen by humans. It is also known as the "forest zebra". It was hunted by the natives for meat and skin. Most of the information about okapi came from captive specimens at zoos. It is the only relative of the giraffe.

Okapi was discovered by British explorer and diplomat Henry Hamilton Johnston in the second half of the nineteenth century. When he was governor of Uganda he had the opportunity to receive from the locals the skin and heads of an animal that looked like a donkey. No other scientist had seen an Okapi. The animal was named Okapia johnstoni in honor of Henry Johnston.

After the discovery, the news spread to the world and many museums and zoos showed interest in these new animals. The problem was that they could not be transported from Africa because of the high mortality rate. It was difficult to transport by train or boat. The situation was resolved with the arrival of the plane. The first specimen arrived in Europe in 1918 in Belgium at Antwerp.

In 2011 several zoos owned 154 okapi, and in 2014 the number increased to 176. Most of these specimens were born in captivity. The first okapi born in captivity was at Stanleyville Zoo on April 19, 1941. There are also okapi as pets in private collections. Bernie Kosar owns 25 in Ohio.

In our country there are no living okapi, but you can see a copy at the Grigore Antipa Museum in Bucharest. A local legend spines that the okapi do their back stripes to camouflage themselves. Okapi comes from two words of the locals. "oka" – to cut and" kpi " - the pattern of stripes with which the EFE tribe colors their arrows.

At the moment it is not an endangered species, but they are threatened with extinction due to habitat loss due to tree felling. One-fifth of okapi's total area has been established as the okapi Wildlife Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site for okapi.

About 5,000 live in the Reserve, and the total population of okapi is estimated at 10,000. In the Reserve is a conservation and Research Center where a breeding program of Okapi specimens is carried out. It is this center that provides animals to zoos.

Okapi Food

It feeds on leaves. The long neck allows him to reach them more easily. He uses his long tongue to pull them out.

Besides fruit, it feeds on a wide variety of plants, fruits, mushrooms, ferns and herbs. Many of the plants it feeds on are poisonous to humans.

Observations from nature have confirmed that the okapi gets its mineral and salt needs from the edge of the rivers.

Okapi Features

It is 2-2.5 meters long, 1.5-2 meters tall and weighs 200-350 kg. The long neck allows it to reach the leaves of trees. The robust body is covered by a dark tan fur. The back has white stripes that help camouflage it. The ankles of the legs are white.

The relative head has large ears and shows two bony stumps. The tongue of black color is up to 35 cm long. With his long tongue he can clean his face, eyes and ears.

His long neck helps him defend himself against predators. It swings its head left and right and hits predators with its stumps. besides the head, he also defends with his feet. Strong hooves can give serious blows. Communication is through a specific puff.

Males have larger territory than females. Their territories often overlap. They are marked with their own scent by rubbing against trees and by marking with urine.

They are shy animals that rely on the vegetation that surrounds them to hide from predators. It is a diurnal animal active during the day. He spends most of his time searching for food.

Outside the mating period are solitary animals. If they meet they are tolerated, and when food is plentiful they can gather in small groups to quench their hunger.

Okapi's biggest predators are the leopard it hardly hears and the man who destroys its habitat. Okapi can run at a speed of 60km/h.

Reproduction Okapi

Socialize only during the reproductive period. Males fight for territories or mating.

After mating follows the gestation period lasts a long time compared to many animals, 16 months. After this period the female okapi gives birth to a cub. As with the Giraffe, the little one gets up and walks shortly after birth. After birth the female takes the cub to the shelter where it remains for two months.

The young are similar in color to adults from infancy, but sexual maturity at the age of three. They are weaned after six months, but still suck breast milk for another six months.

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