Its an ante-zeb-ama ? This Wildlife Wednesday, we learn about the peculiar-looking okapi.
While this strange-looking herbivore may look like the result of an antelope’s wild and crazy night with a zebra and a llama, the okapi is actually a descendant of its much taller and much more recognized cousin, the giraffe.
For Wildlife Wednesday, we’re going to learn about this odd creature and why the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reclassified the species as “Endangered.”
Okapis (pronounced oh-cop-pees) are found in the dense rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s north-eastern regions.
Why they’re threatened
Okapis, previously classified as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN, had their rank drop two tiers to “Endangered” in November 2013. Their new classification and their lowering population numbers are caused by a number of different issues.
Okapi habitats are facing deforestation—for timber, increased agricultural land, and the development of gold and coltan mines, among other things. Okapis, meanwhile, are threatened by poachers, as their meat is sold in the bushmeat market and their unique pelts are valuable.