October 18, 2016
World Okapi Day
- as seen by -Kaitlyn Keys
October 18th marks the very first World Okapi Day.
The event was created to bring awareness to this magnificent species.
The elusive okapi (Okapi johnstoni) is endemic to the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). When people first see an okapi, they instantly think they must be related to zebras because of their striped coat pattern. However, this is not the case; they are actually related to the giraffe and are commonly referred to as the “forest giraffe”. Like the zebra, their striped coats allow them to easily camouflage in their heavily forested surroundings.
Sadly, okapis are declining in the wild due to illegal logging, mining, hunting, and agriculture. Conservationists are working tirelessly to protect the okapi and their environment through many ways, including: training specialized law enforcement rangers, deforestation projects, educational programs, and the continued monitoring of okapi populations.
You can do something simple to help protect okapi – recycle your old cell phones. Cell phones contain coltan, a mineral mined in the forest of the DRC. Recycling your phones could mean less mining in okapi habitat.