WORLD OKAPI DAY 2020

October 18, 2020

Deep in the heart of Africa hidden in the dense jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo, lives the mysterious and enigmatic okapi. Although a respected cultural symbol of the only country in which it is found, its livelihood is threatened by slash-and-burn agriculture, illegal gold mining and bushmeat poaching, despite its protected status since 1933.

That’s why we created World Okapi Day.

The day is centered around celebrating this special animal and using it as a flagship species to protect the entire forest ecosystem in which it lives. Fun, exciting activities are normally planned in six villages around the Okapi Wildlife reserve and are combined with educational messaging targeting key demographics including children, women, Mbuti Pygmies and communities in and around the Reserve. Join us in our effort to educate local communities and protect the endangered okapi!

However, this World Okapi Day, we want to ensure everyone stays safe while celebrating.

World Okapi Day is just 1 week away on October 18! This year, we’ve made some significant changes to our normal celebrations. Clearly, we can’t celebrate in-person with 18,000 people, but we need to ensure the information and ways to protect the forest continue to be shared on this day.
Radio broadcasts are the most common form of communication in this remote region, and everyone has some form of radio to receive news and information. So, our celebrations have moved to the radio waves! On World Okapi Day, we are flooding the radio stations in and around the Reserve with messaging on okapi, protecting the forest, the connection of the environment to human health, and different ways people can protect the forest for okapi and communities for generations to come.
We still want to celebrate with you too, so tag us and let us know what you’re doing on World Okapi Day! Whether it’s telling your friends everything you know about okapi, visiting an okapi at your local zoo, or hosting a fundraising event to support okapi conservation, let us know!

Facebook: @okapiconservationproject

Instagram: @okapiconservation

Twitter: @okapiproject

And of course, be sure to tag us and use the hashtags #OkapiConservation and #WorldOkapiDay when you share your (socially distanced) celebrations! 

Ways you can help save okapi:

  • Visit your nearest zoo or okapi holding facility. See our list of partners and supporters in North America, Europe and Asia here.
  • Tell your family and friends about the okapi.
  • Recycle your old cell phones – they contain coltan a mineral mined in the forests of DRC. Recycling your phones means less mining in the forest.
  • Post your best okapi photos on social media and use the hashtags #OkapiConservation and #WorldOkapiDay on all your okapi-related posts. See some of our social media graphics to share below!
  • Change your social media cover photo to one of the options found on our Facebook page.
  • Give a $10 gift (or more) to the Okapi Conservation Project by visiting by clicking here. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to help protect okapi and its habitat.
  • Host your own okapi awareness event! Get creative! And be sure to share with us what you did! Take photos and email them to lmeers@okapiconservation.org and you may be featured on our social media channels!
What We Celebrated in 2019:

Inspiring Children

Children are the focus for the World Okapi Day celebrations. They are “message multipliers” and bring what they learn back home to share with their parents. During World Okapi Day, OCP educations coordinate races among children in each village with thee top three winners receiving their school fees paid for the upcoming months. Through the activity , they are exposed to conservation messaging, and by continuing school, they are exposed to our conservation programming in class. Additional prizes during the races include school supplies such as backpacks, pens and notebooks.

Empowering Women

Women are better at planning for the future. OCP educators coordinate football matches among the women’s groups with participants receiving prize money for their shared account that they can call upon when they encounter unexpected life expenses. In addition, our educators involve the local business women in each community, giving them the opportunity to announce the races and provide a platform for them to spread our conservation message.

Preserving Mbuti Culture

Mbuti Pygmies have lived in the forest together with the okapi for the past 40,000 years and preserving their culture is just as important as protecting the Okapi World Okapi Day provides a platform for the Mbuti Pygmies to perform their traditional dances, ensuring, their culture thrives throughout the region.

Educating Communities

Everyone loves a good game, especially football and racing. On World Okapi Day, the communities come out to watch all the activities and when they do, we have a captive audience to share our message of protecting the forest and how to live sustainable livelihoods to benefit themselves and protect the forest ecosystem.