Saving the elusive African unicorns

The okapis’ heartbreaking tale, and the woman protecting them.

Concealed deep in the remote, tropical forests around the Congo river, there lives a creature of near-mythical status. A creature so elusive – so mysterious – that for years they were just the subject of legends.

To some, they are known as the African unicorn. To others, they are nothing more than a story. 

But they are very real.

They are okapi.

They even look like something out of a fairy tale, with their bizarre, zebra-esque striped legs and reddish-brown velvet coat. In fact, they are the smaller, shyer cousin of the giraffe – their shorter stature enabling them to amble around the dense forest with ease.

But there is nothing magical about the way they’ve been treated.

These gentle animals have been subjected to horrors. Killed by poachers. Their home razed and ruined. Consumed by the relentless human conflict that surrounds them.

But – thanks to our team on the ground – there’s a glimmer of hope.

Let me introduce you to Sivha Mbake.

She has been working tirelessly for over a decade to protect animals like the okapi, managing ranger operations in Maiko, DRC.

It is testament to the okapis’ suffering and misfortune that one of Mbake’s key recollections is not a happy one.

Whilst she didn’t witness it first-hand, she remembers a brutal attack on the Epulu wildlife reserve in 2012 – a globally important site for okapi – when a group of armed bandits attacked and killed both okapi and staff members, some with extreme and inhumane cruelty.

At least seven staff members died. 15 okapi were killed.

All park infrastructure was destroyed.

This is what Mbake and her team are up against. She has the skills. She has the knowledge. And she has passion – incredible, remarkable passion.

But now we need to make sure she has the tools to do her job.

With your help, we can make sure Mbake and the fantastic team of rangers she supports are equipped, allowing them to patrol the forests and protect the creatures within from the dangers that lurk on the borders.

Today is International Women’s Day, and I can’t think of a better time to show Mbake how much her hard work is appreciated. By donating today, you can make her difficult job that little bit easier.

The future of the okapi depends on the help of people like you – with your support, we can keep these enchanting creatures safe for years to come


Please help save okapi. If everyone reading this donates just £3, you could help us protect the okapi and make sure that their story doesn’t end in tragedy. Thank you.


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