Okapi also known as the Forest Giraffe or the African Unicorn struck me with its weird beauty the very first-time I saw it.
This unique creature is endemic to the dense, lowland rainforests of Ituri Rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Okapi looks like it has a head of a giraffe while its back part oscillates between a deer and a zebra. It also has thick fur that keeps it warm and dry when it rains in the forest.
When it comes to its behavior the Okapis are very shy and prefer to be alone.
Males spray their territory with urine and have scent glands on each foot that leaves behind a tar like substance to communicate their territory.
Once in a while the Okapis will gather in small groups to eat, groom and play.
They consume 45 to 60 pounds of food each day and like feeding on fruits, buds, leaves, twigs and other vegetables like the giraffes and cows. It also has four stomachs that help it digest tough plants.
The Okapi has a long tongue of 14 to 18 inches which they use to wrap around leaves on which they feed as well as to groom themselves and their calves.
Unlike many wild animals the Okapis have one calf when pregnant. The mothers are very protective of their young calves.
With the help of their large ears, the Okapis are very good at hiding from their predators like the leopards which like feasting on them.
Like many wild animals, poachers continue to hunt for Okapis because of their meat and skin which puts it under the list of endangered species.
The Okapi is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list of threated species.
The political situation in Congo also does not help with the Okapis population.
Deforestation is another major reason why they are rapidly disappearing because they like to leave in the thick forest the very one that people are clearing at a very fast rate.
The Okapis existence was first announced by Western scientists at the start of the twentieth century.