The Okapi (the forest giraffe or zebra giraffe) – Rare African Animal…

World of Animals

The Okapi is an elusive herbivore that is found in a small pocket of tropical mountain forest in central Africa. Despite its Deer-like appearance the Okapi is actually one of the last remaining ancestors of the Giraffe, which is the tallest animal on Earth. Along with having a relatively long neck compared to its body size, the most striking feature of the Okapi is the horizontal stripes that are particularly visible on their behinds and give this animal an almost Zebra-like appearance. The Okapi is very shy and secretive, so much so in fact that they were not recognised as a distinct species by western science until the earth 20th century. Although they are seldom seen by people, the Okapi is not an endangered species as they are thought to be fairly common in their remote habitats.

The Okapi is found in the dense tropical rainforests of north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo generally at an altitude that can vary between 500 and 1,000 meters, although the majority of individuals are thought to inhabit areas at roughly 800 meters above sea level. They are incredibly shy and elusive animals and rely heavily on the very thick foliage around them to protect them from being spotted by predators. The Okapi can also be found in areas where there is a slow-moving fresh water source, but the range of the Okapi is very much limited by natural barriers, with unsuitable habitats on all four sides trapping these animals into the 63,000 square kilometre Ituri Rainforest. Around a fifth of the rainforest is today made up of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, which is a World Heritage Site. Although they are thought to be common in their native region, the Okapi has been severely threatened by habitat loss particularly from deforestation.

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