If you have ever been on an African safari or seen a wildlife video, you will often see the common impala featured in some shape or form. These antelope are often overlooked as they are so plentiful.
Here, however, are a few interesting facts to show just how interesting and vital they truly are in the circle of life.
Impalas go into a breeding stage every year. It is an important survival technique. Impalas only give birth to a single lamb at a time. Gestation is just short of about six months. Males fight for dominance over a group of females every year. They fight from May to June for dominance and give birth in November or December. The males are territorial. While the females do not hold territories, males will only hold territories during the mating season.
After giving birth, the lamb can walk 30 minutes after being born. After only two days, they can already run as fast as their mother.
Distribution & Feeding
They are found almost everywhere in Africa except for a few deserts. Males and females do not look the same. Males are a little bigger and have horns that he uses for fighting other males. They feed on grass, fruits, leaves and a lot of other vegetation.
They have glands on their hind legs known as metatarsal glands. This gland is said to release a scent when the impala is frightened and escaping danger. The scent can be followed by other individuals so that they can all find each other. Their survival technique is to breed every year to keep the numbers high. They can run relatively fast, about 80km an hour. The main predator of an impala is a leopard even though almost anything can prey on them. It includes things such as snakes, owls and lions.
Size & Appearance
Impalas are medium-sized antelope. People like to call the impala the fast food of the bush because they are really fast and have a “M” on their rumps which could be compared to the McDonald’s logo. Their color pattern is known as “contour coloration”. This means their coat is darker on the top and lighter at the bottom.
Safety in Numbers
A group of impala is known as a herd. Herds can reach very high numbers of up to 100 impalas. At night they will find an open place to rest for a clear view of where potential predators may emerge.
Impalas play crucial roles in the ecosystem because they provide an adequate sized meal for almost all predators. Without impala, the bush would be a completely different place with very few predators. They are under-appreciated by people. As you now know a little about impalas, next time you see one, I hope you will stop and admire it for a little longer.
Story by: Southern Camp Carlos Lubisi and photos by Linda Taljaard