The Okapi is found in the dense forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Although it resembles a Zebra due to its stripes, it is closely related to Giraffes.

The first Okapi specimens to be brought to Europe were collected by Sir Harry Johnston in 1900-1901, while he served as Special Commissioner in Uganda. Johnston did not see a live Okapi himself, but was able to obtain a complete skin and two skulls with the help of colonial officers in the Congo Free State (now DRC). The species was described and named from these specimens. ‘Okapi’ is thought to derive from the Mvuba or Lese languages. It is also known in the Lingala language as ‘Mondonga’.

One of the main aims of Percy Powell-Cotton’s 1904-1907 expedition to East and Central Africa was to find live Okapi in the wild and collect a complete specimen. He was able to obtain two whole animals, which were killed by an Mbuti man named Ahkuki, who was an experienced tracker. The specimens were both donated to the Natural History Museum. One of the skins, an adult male, was mounted for display. Curator Richard Lydekker noted that, “It is not only the first male specimen the museum has received, but it is the best okapi-skin, the taxidermists tell me, that has been brought to this country”.

Percy Powell-Cotton never managed to shoot an Okapi himself, or obtain a complete animal for his own collection. This skull of an adult male is the only Okapi specimen in the Powell-Cotton Museum. It was collected near Makala, DRC, in 1906, and given to Percy by a French colonial officer named M. Bernard.