Impala (Aepyceros melampus)


Family:                    Bovidae.

Status:                     Endangered.

Size:                        Height (to shoulder) 30 to 38 in., weight 110 to 170 lbs.

Diet:                        Herbivore.

Characteristics:        Social.

Area:                       Africa.

Offspring:                One.

Predators:               Lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, python, spotted hyena, crocodile.



·       The scientific name is Greek for Aipos—high; keras—horn; melampus black-footed. 

·       Impalas have been known to leap up to 10 feet in the air and 30 feet across when alarmed.

·       Many impalas live in national parks in Africa where they are protected.

·       Impalas can run as fast as 40 miles per hour when chased.  



Impalas are graceful, deer-like animals that live in herds. Both the males and females are similar in appearance, with large ears and eyes, reddish-brown fur on the upper half, with a strip of lighter coloured fur and a white belly. They have black markings on their tails and the backs of their legs. The males have large S-shaped horns that can grow up to three feet in length. During the dry season, these animals live in large herds of both males and females, but during the wet season they break up into smaller herds. Males form herds of up to 30, while females and juveniles form herds of up to 100, usually led by a dominant male. Dominant males are extremely territorial, and will mark their area using the scent glands found on their rear feet and on their foreheads. Impalas are usually active during the day, grazing on grass, plants and berries. When approached by a predator, impalas make sudden leaps as they scatter in various directions, hopefully confusing the predator as the herd disperses. They also kick out with their back legs upon landing, to further discourage the predator. 



Impalas can be found in various in southern Africa including Kenya, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Africa. They inhabit areas with plenty of cover as well as a water source. Territories are marked by scent glands as well as urine and feces.



Mating usually occurs in the rainy season, between March and June. Gestation lasts six months, and the female leaves the herd to find a secluded area where she can give birth. Most births result in one calf of approximately 11 pounds—twins are rare. Within the next couple of days the mother and calf will rejoin the herd. Within the herd, the calves stay together so they can socialize. The youngsters are fully weaned by four to six months. Most males leave their mother’s herd at about eight months to join a bachelor herd. Impalas can live up to 17 years in captivity.