|With its sleek, tawny coat, large eyes, and curved
horns, the male impalas one of the most agile, as well as most common, of
all of Africa's antelopes. Throughout most of southern and easter Africa,
impalas live in open forest country and wooded grasslands. Only the males
sport the long, curved horns, which are ridged on the front surface and take
several years to grow.
Habits: Impalas are sociable animals that travel in herds. Females and young form herds as a large as 100 animals, while males alive in small bachelor herds. The herds occupy a large range and make seasonal migrations according to the availability of food. While most males live together peacefully, dominant males may establish their own territories, to which they try to attract females. the most successful males are those whose territories have abundant food. Other males are tolerated as long as they show no interest in the females.
During the dry season impalas of both sexes and all ages from a single, non territorial herd to forage for food away from their home ranges. After the dry season is over the dominant males return to their home ranges. They often must reclaim their territories from rival males.
Breeding: The principal mating season is April through June in the southernmost past of the impala's range, and from February to April in East Africa. Males do not search for females; instead, they mate with those that wander into their territories. When female is ready to give birth, she seeks a secluded spot away from the herd. After the birth, she and her calf remain separate from the group for several days.
When the female rejoins the herd, her calf joins a large group of calves that ae similar in age. Females are not usually sexually mature until they are two years old. A male is unlikely to win his won territory, or females, until he is four years old, even though he is sexually mature at one year old.
Food & Feeding: Impalas feed mainly on grasses, but they also eat a wide variety of leaves, fruits, and seeds. The mount they eat of any one food depends on season and location. In most parts on their range, impalas graze the new protein rich grasses that flourish during the rainy season. When the grasses die during periods of drought, the animals browse on bushes, herbs, and shrubs. Because predators often lie in wait near water holes at dusk, impalas drink during the hottest part of the day, when lions are likely to be asleep.
Related Species: Impala is the only species in the genus. There is a subspecies, the black faced impala. Aepyceros melampus petersi.
Distribution: Found over most of southern and easter Africa. Impalas also live in national parks and reserves.
Conservation: Impalas have disappeared from parts of their southern range because of over hunting by man, but they have been introduced into new areas.
Did you know?
Features of the Impala:
When chased by a predator, an impala can run as fast as 40 miles an hour. It can also jump 10 feet in the air and cover 30 feet in a single leap. Impalas have been known to jump over obstacles more than either feet high.
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