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Okapi

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Okapi
400px-Okapia johnstoni -Marwell Wildlife, Hampshire, England-8a.jpg
Scientific Classification
Species name

Okapia johnstoni

Okapi creation wiki.jpg
Image of the Okapi in a forest

The okapi is a Giraffid known by the scientific name Okapia johnstoni. They are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa and the national symbol of congo [2] Although the okapi has striped markings just like the zebras, it is most closely related to the giraffe.The okapi and the giraffe are the only living members of the family Graffidae. The animals are mostly diurnal but may be active during the night for a few hours. the Okapi is solitary usually only coming together to breed.It has a long neck, large ears and white stripes and bands on their legs.The stripes make it resemble a zebra. This animal is said to not be endangered but threatened.[3]

Body Design

The blue-ish, very long tongue of an Okapi

The Okapi is closely related to giraffes but are smaller and have shorter necks. Okapi backs are nearly level, while giraffe backs slope towards the rear. They are even-toed and chew cud also known as ruminants.

The okapi possesses a Long tongue that is dark-bluish colored and can be extended 25 cm beyond snout to groom whole body, even wiping the eyes, cleaning the ears and nostrils. (as seen in the picture at left)

Males have skin-covered horns .These horns are permanent and do not get shed annually. Since these animals live in dense forested areas the males horns are pointed back toward the rear so they will not get stuck on foliage. On the body and face the fur is velvety and a reddish-brown color, the muzzle and the nostrils are black. Around the eyes there are thick and long eyelashes. The color on the throat, cheeks, and rear-most belly are whitish cream gray or tan. The legs have stockings that are white, these may be helpful allowing other okapi to follow with their poor eyesight in a dark forest. Creamy white stripes that are horizontal are on the upper front legs and the rear of the animal. [4]

Life Cycle

A mother okapi with it's baby

Okapi have a reproduction period of approximately 14 -15 months and give birth to one baby. Young Okapis are born from August to October. Expectant mothers go into the deeper, dense forest to give birth. After this, newborn stays hidden for several days. Okapi newborns stand within the first 30 minutes after birth, and will nurse within the first hour. Despite their ability to walk, mothers continue to hide the newborns for roughly the next two months and return frequently to allow the calves to nurse. The Okapi will protect and feed her vulnerable calf but the two are not thought to share the same close bond that occurs with numerous other hoofed mammals. They have been seen nursing from two different females. [5]

Newborn calves do not defecate until they are between four and eight weeks old, this helps to keep them keep hidden from their predator’s keen sense of smell while they are still small and weak.[6]Although they do begin to develop their white stripes at a fairly young age, the young Okapi do not reach their full adult size until they are roughly three years old. They are generally weaned at around 6 months old but may continue to suckle from their mother for more than a year.[7]

Ecology

habitat range map of Okapia jonhstoni

The okapi population stretches across sections of northern, central, and eastern DR Congo River. The Okapi range from Maiko Forest north to the Ituri Forest, then west through the Rubi, Tele and Ebola river basins, also further north towards the Ubangi River. They live in closed and high canopy forests. [8] Okapi don't occupy strips of forest along riverbanks or into forest islands on the savanna. Okapi avoid the areas that are populated by humans. Tree fall gaps are great foraging sites for okapi during the early stages of regeneration.[4]

Okapis are strictly herbivores, eating tree leaves, buds, grass, ferns, fruit and fungi. Many of the plant species eaten by the okapi are known to be poisonous to humans. [5] Since they are "browsers", they eat between 45 and 60 lbs (20 and 27 kg) of vegetation each day. Okapis are also known to occasionally eat the clay found by riverbeds in order to get their mineral and salt requirements. [6]The food is drawn into their mouths using their long grasping tongue along with fruits, berries and other plant parts. The Okapi will even eat fungi on occasion.[7]

Since the Okapi lives in such a secluded area of mountain rainforest, it actually has only a few common predators compared to similar species. The main predator is the Leopard, which is one of the largest and most powerful cats and an animal that spends a lot of time resting in the trees. Unlike other predators which the Okapi's very good hearing would sense moving through the undergrowth, the Leopard's position above ground means that they are able to both watch the area around them for potential prey but are also able to ambush it from above. Other predators of the Okapi include the human hunters in the area, but the biggest threat to the world's Okapi population is habitat loss due to deforestation.[7]

Threatened

"Photograph of the two "bandoliers" cut from the striped part of the skin of an Okapi, which, when sent home by Sir Harry Johnston, were at first thought to have been cut from the skin of a new kind of zebra."

Although Okapis are not classified as endangered, they are threatened by habitat destruction and poaching. Deforestation, along with the changing political climate in central Africa, has led to a loss of habitat for the okapi population.They are also a target for poachers because of their meat and unique pelts as seen in image at left.. In some places, Okapi are targeted for bushmeat while in other areas they are taken only accidentally[7]

Video

God's amazing Okapi

References

  1. Okapia johnstoni Wikispecies. Web. March 13, 2016. (last-modified) Author unkown.
  2. Foley, James A. Congo's Forest Giraffe, the Okapi, Now an Endangered Species Nature World News. Web. January 3, 2017. (accessed.)
  3. Okapi Wikipedia. Web. last modified January 18, 2017. Author unknown.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Okapi, Okapia johnstoni SDZ Global. Web. Accessed December 31, 2016. Author unknown.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Okapi Animal Corner. Web. (accessed) January 11, 2017. Author unknown.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Okapia johnstoni Rainforest alliance. Web. Last Updated September 14, 2012. Author unknown.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Okapi a-z animals. Web. (accessed) January 11, 2017. Author unknown.
  8. Okapia johnstoni The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . Web. December 30, 2016 (accessed) Author unknown.