WORLD OKAPI DAY
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 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!
Check out our Community Toolkit and images below to share World Okapi Day on your own Social Media!
WHAT WE DO
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.
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.
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.
Epulu – Antwerp Zoo
Epulu is the beating heart of the Reserve. It is home to ICCN headquarters and OCP offices, and it is a critical area for our programs. Thank you to the Antwerp Zoo for sponsoring Epulu! Visit them at: https://www.zooantwerpen.be/en/
Mambasa – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Mambasa is the largest and fastest-growing town in the region and therefore critical to our education and sustainable livelihood programming. Thank you to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo for sponsoring Mambasa! Visit them at: http://www.cmzoo.org/
Mungbere – Tanganyika Zoo
Mungbere (Mung-berry) lies in the northeast corner of the Reserve in a relatively remote location. We are working to expand our programs into this key area of the Reserve. Thank you to the Tanganyika Zoo for sponsoring Mungbere! Visit them at: https://www.twpark.com/
Niania – St. Louis Zoo
Niania is located at the western entrance of the Reserve and is quickly growing in population. It is a critical area as it is near the entry point of the Reserve. Thank you to the St. Louis Zoo for sponsoring Niania! Visit them at: https://www.stlzoo.org/
Wamba – Roosevelt Park Zoo
Wamba is located northwest of the Reserve. The village chief is requesting we expand our programs within their village, and we will continue to focus on the communities in this area. Thank you to the Roosevelt Park Zoo for sponsoring Wamba! Visit them at: http://rpzoo.com/
Watsa – Dallas Zoo
Watsa is located northeast of the Reserve and the community has been persistent in requesting the expansion of our programs to meet the needs of their community. World Okapi Day is the perfect avenue to begin that process. Thank you to the Dallas for sponsoring Watsa! Visit them at: https://www.dallaszoo.com/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and you may be featured on our social media channels!