Okapi - Okapia Johnstoni - African Unicorn

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An African animal so secretive it was once believed to be a mythical unicorn.

Okapi (pronounced oh-COP-ee) are amazing looking animals. They have an incredibly soft velvet-like coat, dark chestnut brown to purplish red. The upper legs are striped, with a pattern much like a zebra, although their closest living relative is the giraffe. The lower legs are white as snow, with black bands at the joints. Okapi have a horse-like head, a thick neck and back legs that are much shorter than the front. Male okapis have skin covered "knobs" on their heads. They have huge dark colored ears and a blue-black tongue, long enough to wash its own eyelids and ears.

Okapi Conservation

There is great fear for the survival of the okapi species. Estimated at 30.000 at the beginning of war and instabilities in the Eastern part of Congo some 10 years back, the number of okapis has drastically dropped to around 9,000.The most outstanding threats to the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in DR Congo in Africa result from illegal immigration of farmers into the Reserve, illegal mining, deforestation and uncontrolled poaching. Okapi meat is also the most expensive game meat in the area making it highly sought after.

To read about White Oak Conservation Center's 'Okapi Conservation Project' in DR Congo, go to: www.okapiconservation.org

 

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