The national animal of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the okapi, is often described as ‘half-zebra, half-giraffe, an animal so rare that is was unknown to the western word until the turn of the 20th century’. However this hybrid-looking creature faces many growing threats, including habitat loss due to the exploitation of the country’s resources.
The current okapi population sits at between 10 000 and 15 000 yet there are not many reliable resources available to determine an approximate number, as they are found in areas plagued by issues of security and political instability. “It is too dangerous to census their populations in the majority of their range,” explains Lucas T. Meers, Conservation Programme Officer (OCP) for the Okapi Conservation Project, which serves the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, home to between 3 000 and 3 500 of the animals. Meers says in the reserve the population is stable.