Okapi (Okapia johnstoni)

Okapi

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Fast facts

Status Endangered

Size Head and body length: 2-2.5m. Tail length: 30-42cm

Weight 200-300kg

Gestation 14-15 months

Young 1

Life span Approximately 20-25 years in the wild, up to 30 years in captivity

What do I eat?

Okapi are herbivores; they will eat various species of plants including a wide variety of leaves, twigs, grasses, fungi and fruits. Much of their day is spent foraging, using their long tongues to get their food.

Some of the food eaten by okapi contains toxins, so to prevent any digestive problems they will eat charcoal from burnt trees. The carbon gained from this acts as a great antidote. They are also known to eat clay found around riverbeds, as this provides the salt and minerals they need in their diet.

Where do I live?

These animals are found within dense tropical rainforests in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa.

Breeding

Okapi can mate from 2 to 3 years of age. Within the first hour of life newborn okapi will stand, take their first steps and have their first feed from mum. The mothers will hide the calf within dense vegetation and will not stray too far from them to allow the calf to feed regularly.

Newborn okapi will not defecate until they are about 4 to 8 weeks old! It is thought that this helps to keep them hidden from potential predators when they are small and vulnerable. Okapi calves will save their energy by spending their time mostly feeding and sleeping, only moving if needed. Okapi calves have been known to stay with their mother for between 2 and 3 years.

Predators

Humans and leopards are the main predators of the okapi.

To protect themselves from threats, the okapi rely on their colouration and stripe patterns as a form of camouflage to keep them hidden in dense vegetation.

Conservation

The main threats to okapi are hunting and the destruction of their habitat. With the demand for land for agriculture and to house an increasing human population, more of the okapi’s range and habitat is being destroyed.

Ongoing research projects are investigating the most effective conservation efforts and requirements that can be made to protect this species in its natural habitat.

Did you know?

The okapi is the closest relative of the Giraffe.

Due to living in dense forests and the shy nature of the okapi, this animal was not discovered until the late 19th century by European scientists.

Okapi mothers make infrasonic sounds to communicate with their calves. These vocalisations are below the range of human hearing.

An okapi’s tongue is about 35cm in length, and is long enough for them to lick their own eyelids and ears.

Okapi can eat up to 20-27kg of plants a day!

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Thank You

Thank you so much for a fantastic day. Outstanding in every way possible.Davy, 22nd August 2017