Okapi, “forest giraffe” - endangered animal native to Ituri province of Congo

Baku, May 10, AZERTAC

Known as the “forest giraffe,” the okapi looks more like a cross between a deer and a zebra.

Although the okapi’s striped markings are similar to the zebra, it is actually related to the giraffe.

Like giraffe, okapi have skin-covered horns and a long black or dark blue prehensile tongue. Unlike giraffe, okapi are solitary animals living in dense rainforest areas. Due to their size and their versatile tongue, both giraffe and okapi are able to reach vegetation higher up than most other hoofed animals. They have a red-brown, velvety coat and distinctive black and white stripes on their back legs.

The okapi is found only in the dense tropical rainforests of central Africa, primarily the Ituri Forest located in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Okapis are also known as “forest giraffes.”

Okapis are generally solitary - they prefer to live on their own so have no group name. Though they can be found together when mating or when a mother is raising her calf.

Okapis are herbivores (plant eaters) that eat a diet of leaves, shoots, fruit and fungi. They also eat clay and charcoal (from burnt trees) to help neutralise toxins in plants and to gain minerals.

Okapis can live for 20 to 30 years.

Okapi are listed as endangered as of 2015, per the IUCN Red List. Because of their secretive life in the dense forest, population assessments are difficult. It is estimated that there are only 10,000 to 20,000 okapis remaining in the wild.

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