Didi Bingham

Joined September 2007

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Okapi (Okapia johnstoni)
London Zoo, England. 2007.

Canon EOS 400D
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
f/5.6, 1/1250s, ISO 800
RAW. BW conversion in PS.

The Okapi is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.

The okapi is a giraffid artiodactyl mammal native to the Ituri Rainforest, located in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Central Africa. Although the okapi bears striped markings reminiscent of the zebra, it is most closely related to the giraffe.

Okapis have reddish dark backs, with striking horizontal white stripes on the front and back legs, making them resemble zebras from a distance. These markings possibly help young follow their mothers through the dense rain forest and may also serve as camouflage.

The body shape is similar to that of the giraffe, except that okapis have much shorter necks. Both species have very long (approximately 35 centimetres), flexible, blue tongues that they use to strip leaves and buds from trees.

The tongue of the okapi is also long enough for the animal to wash its eyelids and clean its ears (inside and out). This sticky tongue is pointed and bluish grey in colour like the giraffe’s. Male okapis have short, skin-covered horns called ossicones. They have large ears, which help them detect their predator, the leopard.

Okapis are 1.9 to 2.5 metres (6.2 to 8.2 ft) long and stand 1.5 to 2.0 metres (4.9 to 6.6 ft) high at the shoulder. They have a 30 to 42 centimetres (12 to 17 in) long tail. Their weight ranges from 200 to 300 kilograms (440 to 660 lb). Okapis are essentially solitary, coming together only to breed, with the exception of mothers and offspring. Breeding behaviours include sniffing, circling and licking each other. (care of Wikipedia)

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