|Scientific Name:||Okapia johnstoni|
|Species Authority:||(P.L. Sclater, 1901)|
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Near Threatened ver 3.1|
|Assessor/s:||IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group|
|Reviewer/s:||Mallon, D.P. (Antelope Specialist Group) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment)|
The total population is estimated in the order of 10,000-35,000 animals, and numbers are stable in the large protected areas. However, the Okapi’s future is closely tied to attempts to develop and implement effective conservation and management of Okapi Faunal Reserve and Maiko National Park in DR Congo, as human populations, bushmeat hunting and economic development pressures expand in these regions. In the absence of these conservation measures, the species would probably quickly meet the thresholds for decline under criterion A4cd.
|Range Description:||The Okapi is endemic to the forests of DR Congo, occurring between about 500 m and 1,500 m elevation over a fairly large range, on both sides of the Congo River. The primary strongholds of Okapi include are the Ituri / Aruwimi and adjacent Nepoko basin forests, and the forests of the upper Lindi, Maiko and Tshopo Basins; the species is also well known in the Rubi-Tele region in Bas Uele (Hart in press).
In Uganda, it formerly occurred in the Semliki Forest, but is not known to survive there (East 1999).
Native:Congo, The Democratic Republic of the
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
|Population:||Okapi density in the Okapi Faunal Reserve varied from 0.1-1.2 animals/km², with an average density of 0.45 animals/km² and a total estimated population of about 6,500 Okapi in the 13,700 km² reserve; somewhat lower densities were recorded in northern and central Maiko, where some 4,000 Okapi were estimated to occur (Hart and Hall 1996). The total global population is probably in the order of 35,000-50,000 animals (Hart in press).|
|Habitat and Ecology:||The Okapi is limited to closed, high canopy forests, occuring in a wide range of primary and older secondary forest types. It does not range out into gallery forests or into the forest islands on the savanna ecotone and it does not persist in the disturbed habitats surrounding larger forest settlements. Although they will use seasonally inundated areas when the substrate is still wet, they do not occur in truly inundated sites or extensive swamp forest (Hart in press). Tree fall gaps are selected foraging sites for Okapi during the early stages of regeneration (Hart and Hart 1989).|
Given that Okapi can coexist with small-scale, low-level human occupation of the forest, but disappear in areas of active settlement or disturbance, the major threat to this species is habitat loss due to logging and human settlement. According to Hart (in press), approximately one-third of the Okapi’s known area of occupancy is likely to be at risk by major incursions during the first quarter of this century. Areas at high risk include the south-eastern Ituri Forest, the Kisangani area, Rubi-Tele, and the western limits of the species' range in the Ebola R basin.
Hunting (meat and skins) is also a threat to the species, and they decline rapidly in areas where there is persistent use of cable snares. The Mbuti hunter-gatherers in the Ituri Forest hold Okapi in high esteem. While this has not prevented them from killing Okapi, it has elevated this to a special event that requires post-hunt purification (Hart in press).
The Okapi is a totally protected species under Congolese law and the species is a national symbol, appearing on the insignia of the Congolese National Parks Institute, ICCN (Hart in press).
The Okapi Faunal Reserve and Maiko National Park continue to support significant populations, with the Okapi being widespread and common within Okapi Faunal Reserve in central lturi, and the Okapi has become the flagship species for the conservation of the lturi ecosystem. Strengthening protection of these two protected areas is the single most important means to ensure long-term survival of Okapi (East 1999; Hart in press).
Since a small population of Okapi still occurs in the northern sector of the Virunga N.P., in the Congolese portion of the Semliki Forest (M. Languy, in Hart in press), reintroduction to Uganda’s now well-protected Semliki Forest National Park should be considered (East 1999).
A number of animals are held in captivity, both in Epulu (headquarters of the Okapi Faunal Reserve) and in international collections.
|Citation:||IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group 2008. Okapia johnstoni. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 24 May 2013.|
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