Congo – Okapi

ambience: Congo forest ambience


We’re listening to the sounds of the rainforest of central Africa, home to an animal that can disappear right before your eyes. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

The okapi is the size of a small horse, with a longish neck. It was originally thought to be a zebra, but in fact, it’s a rare species of giraffe.

“If you see an okapi in a pen, it’s a very spectacular animal in that it has very remarkable stripes on its legs and it’s sort of a reddish gray color, with a gray face and the males have small giraffe-horns and very large ears.”

Terese and John Hart are senior scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society. They were the first scientists to study the okapi in the wild. But they said it’s hard to actually see this animal in its native environment, because despite its remarkable appearance out in the open, the okapi is perfectly camoflaged in a rainforest setting.

“When you see the animal in one of the pens or in a zoo, you’re just absolutely stunned by the sight, but yet the same animal completely disappears in the forest, where you have these intense patterns of light and dark with sun flecks coming down from the canopy, and so that amazing array of colors and patterns completely disappears within this forest. And we’ve been as close as 20 or 30 feet and not seen the animal at all and it’s been right in front of us.”

The okapi is considered a “living fossil”, because it’s the only animal similar to the ancient giraffes. It lives in the Ituri forest of central Africa, a place we’ll be hearing more about in coming programs. To hear some of your favorite Pulse of the Planet programs again online, please visit nationalgeographic.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Congo - Okapi

In the rainforest of central Africa, a rare giraffe with stripes like a zebra can disappear before your very eyes.
Air Date:10/17/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

ambience: Congo forest ambience


We're listening to the sounds of the rainforest of central Africa, home to an animal that can disappear right before your eyes. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

The okapi is the size of a small horse, with a longish neck. It was originally thought to be a zebra, but in fact, it's a rare species of giraffe.

"If you see an okapi in a pen, it's a very spectacular animal in that it has very remarkable stripes on its legs and it's sort of a reddish gray color, with a gray face and the males have small giraffe-horns and very large ears."

Terese and John Hart are senior scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society. They were the first scientists to study the okapi in the wild. But they said it's hard to actually see this animal in its native environment, because despite its remarkable appearance out in the open, the okapi is perfectly camoflaged in a rainforest setting.

"When you see the animal in one of the pens or in a zoo, you're just absolutely stunned by the sight, but yet the same animal completely disappears in the forest, where you have these intense patterns of light and dark with sun flecks coming down from the canopy, and so that amazing array of colors and patterns completely disappears within this forest. And we've been as close as 20 or 30 feet and not seen the animal at all and it's been right in front of us."

The okapi is considered a "living fossil", because it's the only animal similar to the ancient giraffes. It lives in the Ituri forest of central Africa, a place we'll be hearing more about in coming programs. To hear some of your favorite Pulse of the Planet programs again online, please visit nationalgeographic.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.