This is the 49th okapi calf, Ngwani (meaning “child”), born in captivity in Antwerp Zoo. It is a great achievement and another contribution to keep a high number of healthy and genetically diverse animals living and breeding in zoos. To date the okapi in the wild is considered Near Threatened according the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
About 10,000 to 35,000 okapis live in the rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the single place in the world where they still exist in the wild. Conservation efforts, such as the Okapi Conservation Project, have been started to ensure their continued existence in the wild, while the breeding programme ensures they will exist in zoos as well. Hopefully, it won’t be necessary to start reintroducing them to the wild, but if it is everything has been set up to do so — and alleviate the pressure on the okapi population in the wild.
Antwerp Zoo coordinates the global International Studbook (ISB), as well as the European Endangered Species breeding Programme (EEP) of okapi.
(Source: Antwerp Zoo news, 20.12.2012; Okapi Conservation Project)