The millenary okapi
The okapi is considered one of the most amazing animals that exist . This animal is a mammal that lives in the jungles of the north of the Republic of the Congo. Its scientific name is Okapia johnstoni .
Despite being the closest relative of the giraffes and sharing several of their morphological characteristics, it looks more like a horse. His hair is reddish, except in his hindquarters, where he has black and white stripes like a zebra.
He has an elongated neck and huge, pointy ears. Near them, like the giraffes, there are two small osicons without an apparent anatomical function.
His tongue is a dark bluish color and measures approximately 30 centimeters. The tongue is long enough to wipe its ears with its tip.
Your senses of hearing and smell are very developed. Their sense of sight, unlike giraffes, is considered rather weak.
Okapis are very calm, shy and elusive. Lonely behavior, these animals live together as a couple from time to time or in small family groups.
A characteristic that distinguishes them is that they almost never hear their 'voice'. Only pups are heard when communicating with their mothers and adults during the heat.
Habitat and okapi reproduction
Okapis live in jungles and forests where vegetation is very thick . This reduces the chances of being seen by their predators. There is very little information collected about okapis, because they live in areas extremely difficult for humans to penetrate.
In a state of freedom, they are only found in the forests of the Congo . Formerly it was also in Uganda, but they became extinct in the area. However, in captivity it can be found in zoos all over the world.
Like all mammals, okapis must reach sexual maturity before they reproduce . The females reach maturity at two years, but the males take three.
At the time of reproduction, the females let hear mooing to attract the males. They come and fight for them. In spite of being lonely, when the okapis are related, they remain with their partner for a long period of time.
The gestation period is extremely long. The gestation of the okapi lasts between 14 and 15 months, after which a single offspring is born. The young have a weight that varies between 18 and 20 kilograms.
A striking feature is that at birth they do not recognize their mother. In this way, if the mother dies, the baby can survive the care of another female. The life expectancy of the okapi is 30 years.
The okapi in danger of extinction
Okapis manage to camouflage themselves easily in the thick and inaccessible forests where they live Despite their great ability to go unnoticed, they have a natural predator: the leopard .
Likewise, conservation organizations have determined other risk factors for the safety of this species.
One of the most important is that their habitat is reduced. The growth of the surrounding populations results in deforestation, in order to create habitable zones for humans.
This has as a consequence that the territory inhabited by the okapis is getting smaller There are armed groups that disperse and even camp in the wooded areas where this animal is found. Whether to use their skin or to eat their flesh, hunting them is an attempt on the life of this animal, considered a living fossil.
The simple fact of its long and inefficient reproduction process, represents by itself a possible danger of extinction. After 14 months of gestation, they give birth to a single baby. The low birth rate means that they can not quickly replenish potential losses to a herd.
Due to the impenetrability of their habitat, it is impossible to know with certainty with how many individuals the Okapis world population counts . However, it is considered a threatened species due to the small size of its distribution area. Therefore, we must take care of it and preserve it.