What is Okapi? (The Forest Giraffe)

Okapi | Okapi animal

Okapi is considered as the relatives of giraffe, which belongs to the Giraffidae family. Scientifically they are known as Okapia johnstoni. These species are unique in behavior and appearance. Okapi is about 5 feet tall; female okapi is a little more massive than male okapi, the female weighs at 440-770 pounds whereas males weigh between 440-660 pounds. The tongue of the okapi is measured as 18 inches long, which is long enough to reach its ears and eyes.

What does Okapi look like?

Also known as forest giraffe or zebra giraffe, these species have the features of both the animals. The body of okapi looks like a horse, and its legs have stripes like zebra. Okapis also have a long neck; still, it is smaller than the neck of a giraffe.

Half Zebra Half Giraffe:

Okapi is considered as the combination of both zebra and giraffe, the head of an okapi looks like a giraffe, their rumps and legs have stripes like zebra.

Okapi Natural Habitat:

Okapi is native to the Democratic Republic of Congo, they are found in the Ituri rainforest. Okapis prefer to live in the dense forests. Okapi is a shy animal and protects themselves with thick leaves to hide from their predators.

Okapi Behavior:

Okapi is a solitary and diurnal animal; they are active during the day time and spend their day roaming in search of food. Although they are solitary animals unless the female carries a calf with her. These species have overlapping home rangers; Males okapi occupy a vast territory than females. Okapi communicates with one another using a jerking sound as they live in dense forests where it is unable for them to see at a distance. Male okapi often fights with another male okapi over territory using their neck. The area of the males is marked by rubbing their necks on the tress and urinating.

Okapi Reproduction:

The evolution of a female lasts for 16 months; it will give birth to a single calf. The newborn will able to stand within half an hour of the delivery, it will be protected for another two months by the mother okapi, which also helps them to stay away from hungry predators. The young will reach their full adult size when they are three years old. The calves will weigh about 35 pounds and will stand 2.6 feet tall. Okapis mate during the whole year, commonly in May and June and again in November and December.

Interesting Facts about Okapi:

  • Okapi prefers to live in high altitudes between 500 and 1000 meters.
  • The average lifespan of an okapi is between 20 to 30 years.
  • The okapi has long and flexible ears, which can rotate independently so that they can listen to both front and behind sounds.
  • The coat of okapi is chocolate to red-brown color, the face, throat, and chest have a grayish white color.
  • The male okapis have short horns covered with hairs, which is less than 5.9 inches, whereas female okapi has bumps on their head. 
  • Okapis are herbivorous animals, which feed on leaves, grasses, fruits, and ferns. 
  • An okapi runs at a speed of 35 mph.
  • Unlike giraffe, the okapi is a forerunner, which means they step together with the front and hind leg on the same side of the body instead of moving alternate legs.

The Population of Okapi:

The current population of okapis is estimated at 25,000 in the wild. The major threats to these species are loss of habitat, illegal hunting for their skin and meat. The red list of IUCN declared okapi as an endangered species.