The national animal of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is Okapi. Okapi is sometimes called the forest giraffe or forest zebra, but one of its lesser-known (unofficial) names is the “African unicorn.” The national animal of Congo Okapi and the giraffe are the only existing members of the family Giraffidae. The Okapi is also the national symbol of Congo. The picture of Congo’s national animal used as the logo for different organizations in Congo.
Usually found in the rainforests of the Congo region. This beautiful animal Okapi, the national symbol of Congo, lives in the northern, central and eastern parts of the Congo (Africa). The okapi was unknown to science until 1901 when British explorer Sir Harry Hamilton Johnston sent the first bits of hiding to the British Museum. Though there is a debate about the exact number of population but the tentative number is 35000-50000. (ICUN Red List, 2013)
Facts about the Congo’s National Animal
- Common Name: Okapi or forest giraffe
- Scientific name: Okapia johnstoni
- Found in: The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda
- Habitat: Dense and damp vegetation, rainforests
- Main Diet: Leaves, buds, fruits, grasses, ferns and twigs
- Average Height: 198 cm
- Average Length: 246 cm
- Weight: 200-350 kg
- Average Lifespan: 20-30 Years
- Conservation Status: Decreasing on the IUCN Red List
The Okapi has a coat of chocolate or reddish brown much contrast with the white horizontal stripes on their front and hind legs. It has a long skull, large black eyes and very long, purplish tongue, just like a giraffe. Exceptionally Females are larger than males. Interesting it has a very large tongue and able to reach its eyes & ears. The Okapi is as ruminant as the cow. One & half year’s female okapi vocalizes when she is ready to mate with male one. Males and females spend few weeks together, and females to become pregnant. Pregnancy states continue around 14 to 16 months ends with one calf.
The male okapis have horns covered with skin but females have bumps instead of horns. They are usually active during the afternoon & in the early evening.