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Since 1933 the okapi is protected by law in its native Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite its patchy distribution, the okapi is common in much of its current range and is therefore not listed as a threatened species by international agreement. However, habitat loss due to deforestation as well as poaching continue to restrict the range of the species and take their toll on the population. Another great danger to the okapi is lack of knowledge about it outside of zoos. Little field research has been done on the species due to its inaccessible habitat and reclusive nature (Bodmer 1992).

The world population is estimated at 10,000–20,000. Conservation work in the Congo includes the continuing study of okapi behaviour and life styles, which led to the creation in 1992 of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. The Congo Civil War continues to threaten both the wildlife and the conservation workers in the Reserve.

The Okapi Conservation Project is located within the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic Of Congo. The Okapi Conservation Project (OCP) was initiated in 1987 with the objective of eliciting support for the conservation of the wild okapi from individuals, foundations and zoological institutions managing okapi around the world. Okapi ambassadors in zoos help instill awareness of the rapid destruction of rainforests and generate financial support for the preservation of okapi habitat in the Ituri Forest of the Congo River basin. The OCP has significantly contributed to the establishment and security of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, one of the most biologically diverse areas in all of Africa.


Bodmer, R.E., and G.B. Rabb. 1992. Okapia johnstoni. Mamm. Species, 422:1-8



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