Impala

© Roger de la Harpe

Name

Impala

Appearance

The impala is the most common antelope found in the bushveld of South Africa. They have a rufous-fawn colour hide with a white underbelly and are graceful in stature. They measure around 900 mm at the shoulders, with rams weighing about 60 kg and females 40 kg.

The impala has a black stripe that runs from the top of the rump all the way down to the back of the thighs. Only males have lyre-shaped horns that are 700 mm in length. The lower hind legs possess glands that lie beneath tufts of black hair.

Impala Diet

Considered a mixed feeder, the impala grazes on various shrubbery and grass found on flat terrains in South Africa. They will also feed on Acacia pods and certain fruits if it is available.

Impala Breeding

Impala calves are born during the summer months in South Africa, after a gestation period of 6 months. The ewes become sexually mature at the age of two years, while males can start mating at as young as 1 year. However, young males are prevented from producing by much older territorial rams in the herd.

Impala Behaviour

Known for their glorious leaps over the bushveld plains of South Africa, the impala are sociable animals that live in large herds. Two types of herds exist within the impala populations, which are the breeding and bachelor herds. Rutting between males occurs during the winter. Young males live in bachelor herds, while established males with territories become solitary. The female impala all live in breeding herds.

Impala Habitat

The impala inhabits the woodland and savannah regions found in the north and eastern provinces of South Africa and beyond.

Predators

The impala falls prey to almost all big predators found in the wild of South Africa. As a result, the impala are always on the alert. Should one of them spot danger, it will give a warning snort causing the whole herd to scatter in different directions. To witness the impala jump to incredible heights of 3 to 12 metres high is a truly a spectacle to behold.

Spoor Description

Impala hooves are 4-6 cm long and have a sharp, neat and pointed shape.

Field Notes

The impala are also referred to as the McDonald's of the bushveld in South Africa due to their large populations and being the most common prey to predators. The unique black markings on their rump also somewhat resemble the company logo.

Fast Facts on Impala

Bushveld ecotone species - woodland areas especially Acacia and Mopane woodland, needs cover and water....more

Impala Social Relationships and Breeding

At the end of January, shorter day lengths trigger an increase in testosterone in the males and they separate out of their bachelor groups and begin the arduous task of setting up territories....more

What Defence Mechanismas do Impala Use?

They have a darker colour on their backs than on their flanks and the flanks are darker than the pale belly....more

Why Are There So Many Impala?

Impala are very common antelope in the Lowveld but they are also one of the most superbly adapted species in this area....more

Why Do Impala Always Look Healthy?

Impala typically inhabit ecotone regions, the transitional zone between two types of habitat, in this case between grassland and woodland....more