June 07, 2021

Is it a Zebra or Girrafe? - Okapi of Congo

Okapi | Forest Giraffe| Republic of Congo| Okapi with zebra stripped legs | Wildlife of Dominica 

A majestic creature living in the dense rainforest of Congo may confuse you between a Giraffe and a Zebra but it is a relative of the Giraffe family known as Okapi. While the name is unusual but the animal is itself is one of the most unusual creatures in the world which looks like a cross between a Zebra and a Giraffe.


Okapi or "The Forest Giraffe"  
Image Source-  Google | Image by -  Snappy Goat 

Okapi or "The forest Girrafe" is a mammal found in the Ituri Forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo and it is the only place left in the world where this amazing creature can be sighted. Although these are present today in very small numbers and have been declared as one of the “ Endangered Species”, still a small population is present in the wild which is being protected today. 

Characteristics and Behaviour 

Okapi is a hoofed mammal similar to a giraffe. It is around 8 feet in length and about 6 to 6.5 feet shoulder height. The weight is around 200 to 250 kilograms. It has a dark chestnut brown colour oily thick coat which helps to keep the coat dry in the humid rain forest. It has horizontal stripes like a zebra on its upper legs which helps in camouflage against any predator. The tail is around 15 to 17 inches in length. 


Okapi in captivity
Image Source-  Google | Image by -  Pixabay

It has a blue/black long tongue which helps eat buds and leaves from trees. The lower legs are white and it has a black muzzle with a long neck. 

These have short skin-covered horns which are more dominant in males. These have large ears to detect any kind of threat such as a leopard. This is one of the few animals that can touch its ear with its tongue. 

Habitat and Diet 

These solitary creatures mostly prefer less dense areas of rainforest such as well-trodden path and group of generally mother and offspring is found roaming. 


Okapi with offspring
Image Source-  Google | Image by -  Flickr

These wander around in very large areas because of which this species is facing the threat of extinction due to the loss of suitable areas as a result of development. 

Its diet is mostly plant-based such as fruits, ferns, buds, grass, etc. Its diet is supplemented by charcoal of burnt trees and clay in the waters of nearby rivers which fulfill its mineral and salt requirement.


Okapi Conservation Project was established to protect the species from extinction as a last five thousand are left in the wild which are still facing threats such as habitat loss, poaching and natural predator which is mostly leopard. The IUCN has listed the species as “Endangered” and the Institute in Congo for Conservation of Nature along with local authorities are trying their best to protect the species by aligning forest rangers and patrols and awareness among the locals explaining the importance of biodiversity of the region.

Okapi | Forest Giraffe| Republic of Congo| Okapi with zebra stripped legs | Wildlife of Dominica 

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