The okapi live in the dense jungle of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The opaki is under threat
Although it is a respected cultural symbol of the DRC (have had protect status since 1933), the opaki is threatened by human activities: slash-and-burn agriculture, illegal gold mining, logging, encroachment from human settlement and bush-meat poaching.
Enter the Opaki Conservation Project
Enter the Opaki Conservation Project which works to protect the natural habitat of the opaki and indigenous Mbuti pygmies who lives in the Opaki Wildlife Reserve. It also looks to promote the species around the world.
The reserve itself is a designated World Heritage Site. It sits within the Ituri Forest, and it encompasses 13,700 square kilometres. As well as the opaki, it is home to animals such as forest elephants, chimpanzees, 13 species of primates, leopards, bongo antelopes and a huge variety of birds and insects.
World Opaki Day’s aims
World Opaki Day on 18 October 2021 celebrates the opaki – it raises awareness of it as many people have never heard of an opaki. You can find out more about the opaki here.
And crucially, the opaki acts as a flagship species to protect the forest ecosystem where it resides.
There are activities around the villages in the reserve and they are combined to educate local communities and protect the opaki.
Things we can do on World Okapi Day:
1. Follow the day on social media: #OkapiConservation and #WorldOkapiDay and #WOD2021 and tell people about okapis. The Okapi Conservation Project also has a social media kit
2. Recycle your own mobile phone. Did you know that a cell/mobile phones have coltan? It’s a mineral mined in the DRC forests, so if you recycle your phone it means less mining in the forest.
3. Put okapi photos on social media, using the hashtags hashtags #OkapiConservation and #WorldOkapiDay
4. You could also donate to the Okapi Conservation Project – all proceeds go to help protect okapi and its habitat.
$15 Supports 1 ranger per day to protect okapi and their habitat.
$50 Provides a month of medical care for a ranger and his family.
£125 Provides one sewing machine for an OCP sponsored women’s group.
$250 Buys a camera trap to capture photos of okapi in the forest
5. Watch okapi videos!