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Okapi Range Map (Central Africa)
Okapi Range Map (Central Africa)

Latin Name Okapia johnstoni
Conservation Status Near Threatened
Location Central Africa
Colour Brown
Length 2 - 2.2 m (6.5 - 7.25 ft)
Tail 30 - 42 cms (12 - 16.5 inches)
Weight 200 - 350 Kgs (440 - 770 lbs)
Life Expectancy Up to 30 Yrs (in Captivity)

Main Characteristics

The Okapi is closely related to the giraffe. They have a body length between 2 and 2.2 m (6.5 - 7.25 ft), a tail length between 30 and 42 cms (12 - 16.5 inches) and they weigh between 200 and 350 Kgs (440 - 770 lbs). Females are slightly larger than males.

Their coat is short, velvety and sleek and it is dark brown in colour. They have zebra like markings on their rump and upper parts of their legs. Their face is pale in colour and they have long ears, a large head and a long neck. They have bony lumps on the top of their head and in males these have developed into small horns by the time they reach 3 years of age.

They have a long, blue/black, prehensile tongue that they use to grab leaves and pull them into their mouth. They also use their tongue to groom themselves and mothers use it to groom their calf.

They are active during the day and due to the nature of their habitat they rely on their sense of hearing to warn them of things approaching. They make a "chuff" sound if they come upon another Okapi.


The Okapi is found in the dense, tropical rainforests of north and north east Congo. They are solitary, except mothers with young, and they have overlapping home territories that are several square kilometres. They mark their territory with urine and "tar-like" secretions from scent glands on each foot.


The Okapi feeds upon leaves, shoots, buds, fruit, soft twigs and other vegetation. Many of the plants that the Okapi feed on are known to be poisonous to humans.


Females give birth to a single calf, from August - October, after a gestation period of 425 - 491 days. The calf weighs between 14 and 30 kgs (31 - 66 lbs) at birth and they are able to stand approximately 30 minutes after birth.

The calf follows its mother around for a couple of days then they find a nest and it remains hidden for the first few weeks. During this period they do not defecate and they feed infrequently which keeps it safe from predators. They are weaned at approximately 6 months old although they may continue to suckle for up to a year. They reach sexual maturity at 2 years fo age.


Humans and leopards are the main predators of the Okapi.


There are no subspecies of the Okapi.

Interesting Facts

The Okapi was recognized as a distinct species in 1901.

Okapia is derived from the Lese Karo name o'api while johnstoni is in recognition of the explorer, Sir Harry Johnston, who discovered the animal.

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