Okapi

Okapi is only distributed in the dense tropical rainforests in the East and north of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Diurnal animals, usually single, meet only when they mate. Besides green leaves and tender leaves, they also eat grass, ferns, fruits and fungi. The life span of the cultured okapis can reach 33 years. The red list of IUCN is: Okapia johnstoni (scientific name: Okapia johnstoni): weight 180-317kg, body length 1.9-2.5m, tail length 30-42cm, shoulder height 1.5-1.65m. On average, females are bigger than males. It is a large mammal found in Zaire forest of Africa until 1901. At first sight, okapi looks more like a horse. Because of the alternating black and white stripes at the back, it looks very like a zebra. In the past, it was thought that okapi was produced by giraffe mating with zebra, but in fact, it is not a close relative of zebra. Giraffes look like okapis before their necks grow longer.

It is distributed in the tropical rainforest and alpine forest in eastern Congo, Africa, and lives at an altitude of 500-1000m. Besides green leaves and tender leaves, it also eats grass, ferns, fruits and fungi. It keeps a lot of original features and is rare.

Profile description

The length of okapis is 190-250cm; the length of tail is 30-42cm; the height of shoulder is 150-200cm; the weight is 200-350kg. Males are larger. The fur of okapi is chocolate, with red and crimson velvet luster. The hips and upper legs have horizontal black and white stripes. Some people think that these stripes are used as a sign of “follow me” in dense rainforests, so that cubs can follow their mothers closely, and they can also be used as camouflage. Calves white or light brown. Black and white on the face. The neck and legs obviously lengthened, but not to the giraffe’s point. The male has two short antlers with antlers, while the female has no antlers. The tongue of okapi is blue, very long (about 30 cm), very flexible. Okapis use their tongues to roll up young leaves from trees. Okapis can also use their long tongues to clean their eyes and ears. The ear is the weapon on which okapis find their natural enemy leopard, so it grows very large.

Ecological habits

Okapis are diurnal animals, usually single, and only encounter each other when they mate. In addition to green and tender leaves, okapis eat grass, ferns, fruits and fungi. Okapis only need to sleep for 60 minutes a day and 5 minutes at a time. They are always on alert. Okapis use glands on each foot to secrete an asphaltic substance to mark where they pass, and urine to mark their territory. Because the okapis are very timid and live in a dense forest in a civil war country, people know little about their wild habits, and only guess the number of them. A rough estimate (but very unreliable) is that there are now between 10000 and 20000 wild animals.

Growth and breeding

The gestational period of okapi is 421-457 days, with one cub per birth, generally born from August to October. The cub weighs 14-30 kg at birth, has a lactation period of about 10 months and a maturity period of 4-5 years. The life span of the cultured okapis can reach 33 years.

Okapi is found only in the dense rainforests of the eastern and Northern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Life habit

Okapis only need to sleep for five minutes a day, and they are always vigilant. Okapis use glands on each foot to secrete an asphaltic substance to mark where they pass, and urine to mark their territory. PIs only inhabit in the deep mountains and forests, and few grassland predators such as lions and hounds are involved, so they have few natural enemies except cheetahs. But cheetahs always like to target the herbivores who live in groups. They are not interested in the “lone ranger” like the PI, so they seldom have the chance to meet. [1]

In addition to green leaves and tender leaves, okapi also feeds on grass, ferns, fruits and fungi.

Living condition

Locals in Congo’s rainforests have always known the existence of okapi, and they use traps to hunt for it. The ancient Egyptians also knew the existence of okapi. Shortly after the discovery of okapi by Europeans, a mural with okapi was found in Egypt. Later, when Henry Morton Stanley went there to explore, local people reported that there were animals similar to horses brought by Stanley in the dense forest. At that time, many people guessed what kind of animal it was. Some even call it “African unicorn”. At that time, Sir Harry Johnston, the governor of England in Uganda, saw the footprints of some of these animals. He had found that these footprints were not the footprints of horses living in the forest, but the footprints of cloven hooves. It was not until 1900 that the Zoological Society of London acquired some of the okapi fur that the locals hunted. At that time, zoologists named the unknown species Equus johnstoni, which means that it was included in the genus equine. But when a nearly complete fur and two skulls arrived in Europe in June 1901, zoologists realized that it was wrong to divide them into equines, and soon realized the similarities between these animals and the fossils of European glacial short necked giraffes. It wasn’t until 1909 that white men captured a living okapi. Before that, many hunters for many years competed with each other in vain to become the first white man to hunt a okapi. In 1918, the first living okapi was transported to Antwerp, Europe. In 1937, the first living okapi arrived in the United States through Antwerp. The Brookfield Zoo in Illinois, the United States, has bred in captivity for the first time. The zoo also coordinates the American Association of zoos and aquariums’ okapi survival program. Today, there are about 45 okapis in captivity in the zoo.

Knowledge

Nomenclature: Okapia, the Latin genus name of okapis, is taken from the local name o’api. Its species name johnstoni is in memory of Harry Johnston who first obtained the skull of okapis. Okapis (the standard writing should be “canine”). Attribution: okapis is a large mammal found in Zaire forest of Africa until 1901. It is a cloven hoofed animal in the giraffe family. It is related to giraffe and is the only close relative of giraffe that has not been extinct. But at first sight, it looks more like a horse. Because of the black and white stripes on the back, it looks very like a zebra. In the past, it was thought that okapi was produced by giraffe mating with zebra, but in fact, it is not a close relative of zebra. Giraffes look like okapis before their necks grow longer.