Impala

Antelopes are a large group of hoofed animals that live mainly in Africa, with a few living in Asia. Antelopes belong to the same group of mammals as cattle, bison, sheep and goats. Gazelles also belong to this same group. Antelopes and their relatives have horns rather than antlers. These are made from bone and are permanent features on the heads.

The unusual name of this antelope is derived from the Zulu language, reflecting the native African name. They are generally seen in savanna areas.

ANIMAL FACTS

Impalas will instinctively feed both by grazing at ground level, and also by browsing on taller plants, particularly when grass is hard to find during dry spells of weather. They tend not to stray far from water. Males will establish territories with herds of females, and mating takes place at the end of the wet season. The female later breaks away from the herd, giving birth alone. Mother and fawn will then rejoin the group; weaning occurs about six months later.

VITAL STATISTICS

Distribution: East and southern Africa. From Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania southwards to Mozambique.

Habitat: Savannah and open woodland.

Weight: Around 45 - 80 kg (100 - 176 lb).

Length: 120 - 160 cm (48 - 64 in); males larger than females.

Maturity: 2 years.

Gestation Period: 7 - 8 months; longer if conditions are harsh.

Breeding: 1; can be born at any time of year in equatorial Africa.

Food: Herbivorous, eating fresh grass when available, as well as leaves and shoots at other times.

Lifespan: 12 - 15 years maximum.

Status: Common.

Horns

Only the male impala, known as a ram, has lyreshaped horns. These can grow to 91 cm (36 in).

Senses

Impalas have a keen sense of smell, hearing and eyesight.

Colouration

Reddish-brown with paler underparts and black markings.

DANGEROUS ACQUAINTANCES

Cheetahs can outpace impalas. Lions, wild dogs and hyenas also represent a serious threat, especially if hunting in groups.

Gallery of Impala