A solitary, forest-living member of the giraffe family with a dark velvety coat, white stripes on its rump and legs, and large ears.
Meaning of scientific name
Okapia': from the native name o'api; 'johnstoni': after Sir Harry H. Johnston who 'discovered' the animal.
15 or more years in captivity.
1.9-2m long with a 30-42cm long tail, standing 1.5-1.7m high at the shoulder.
A forest-living member of the giraffe family with a medium-length neck and slightly sloping back. The coat is dark velvety brown with horizontal white stripes on the hindquarters and legs. Very large deer-like ears and slight bony lumps on the head (developing into bony horns in adult males). Tail dark with a long dark tassle.
North and North Eastern Congo.
Dense rain forest.
They browse leaves from trees and shrubs.
The okapi was only officially discovered in 1901, although it had been hunted for centuries by local people. It currently lives only in a restricted area of West/Central African secondary forest where there is plenty of shrubby undergrowth. They are solitary animals, browsing vegetation using their long tongues, just like giraffes. They scent mark their territories, and when in heat females also call.
Males are attracted to females on heat, which call and scent mark their territories for up to a month. Males neck-fight and butt each other when fighting over females. Gestation is 427-457 days, after which a single calf is born, with a small head, short neck and shorter, thicker legs and with an upright mane. The calf remains hidden for the first few weeks, calling to its mother. Weaning is at around 6 months, and males develop their ossicles (bony horns) at 1-3 years.
Hunting and forest degradation threaten the okapi, but it is presently listed as 'Lower risk - near threatened'.
Calves call to their mothers, and females call when in heat.
The giraffe family was more widespread in the Pliocene, but now there are just two members remaining, both specialising in browsing high vegetation.