Uncover the mystery behind these forest giraffes
Feast your eyes on the mysterious okapi, as it might be the closest you’ll ever get to seeing this striking creature. Not only does their unique rear-end provide them with the perfect camouflage, mimicking the light seeping through the jungle foliage, but they are also incredibly rare. The okapi is only found among dense jungle forestry in a select area of the DR of Congo and has been driven to the edge of extinction by the threats to their habitat, as well as hunting for bushmeat and the consequences of local warfare.
Despite recent efforts to protect and celebrate the okapi, like making it the national animal of the DR of Congo, the population fell by more than 40 per cent between 1995 and 2007. Due to their shy nature there is currently no reliable estimate on their numbers.
Even before it was considered endangered, the okapi has always been exceptionally good at hide and seek; so good in fact that the striking creature was thought to be a local myth by the Western world until 1901. To colonisers, rumour of their existence was based entirely on stories told by local inhabitants, and without any documentation or proof they might as well have been a fairytale. With their deep brown, almost plum-coloured coat, pale faces, large eyes and striped behinds, it’s easy to see why they might have been seen as too fantastical to be real.