What is an impala?
The impala is reddish-brown with white hair inside the ears, over each eye and on the chin, upper throat, under parts, and buttocks. A narrow black line runs along the middle of the lower back to the tail, and a vertical black stripe appears on the back of each thigh. Impalas have unique brush-like tufts of black hair that cover a scent gland located just above the heel on each hind leg. The female is similar to the male but does not have horns. The male’s graceful lyre-shaped horns are 18 to 37 in. long.
Impalas have more well-adjusted diets than many other antelopes.
Able to both graze and browse, the impala has a greater and more reliable food supply than animals that do either one or the other. It eats young grass shoots in the wet season and herbs and shrubs at other times.
Their social structures change with the seasons.
The impala’s social organization allows it to adapt to environmental conditions. When food is plentiful, males become territorial, shepherding females about their land. In dry periods, territories are abandoned as herds must travel farther to find food.
They move in leaps and bounds.
A surprised impala herd will leap about in what appears to be a disorganized way. However, this reaction helps keep the herd together. Initially, an individual impala leaps up, casting about from left to right, bringing individuals into contact with each other. High jumps also allow impalas to release signals from the fetlock scent gland in midair, easier for a rapidly running impala to pick up.
Impala births usually coincide with rains.
Young are born year-round, but birth peaks usually coincide with the rains. The female leaves the herd and seeks a secluded spot to bear her fawn. If the fawn is born at a time when there are few other young around, the mother will stay with it in seclusion for a few days, or even a week or more before returning to the herd. If there are many other fawns, she may take hers back to the herd in a day or two, where a nursery group may form. Nursery groups are safer because predators have more difficulty selecting an individual. The young are suckled for four to six months and reach maturity at a little over a year.