Impala | African Wildlife Foundation

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Impala

Conservation Status:

Least Threatened

  • Protected areas house 25% of the population
  • Native to more than 10 African countries
  • There are 2 subspecies

Quick Facts

Scientific name

Aepyceros melampus

Weight

100 to 135 lb.

Size

28 to 36 in. tall

Life span

12 years

Habitat

Savannas and light woodlands

Diet

Herbivorous

Gestation

Between 6 and 7 months

Predators

Lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, hunting dogs, humans

Habitat

Where do impalas live?

Impalas are found at grassland and woodland edges, usually very close by water.

Tags: Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kazungula, Zambezi, East Africa, Southern Africa View Africa | Habitat

Physical Characteristics

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.

Behavior & Diet

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 actually 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. This scent is 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. The young males, however, are evicted from their mothers' groups when they are 6 months old and join a bachelor group. During this transition period, they are most vulnerable to predators. Males will not be mature enough to hold a territory until they are 5 or 6 years old.

Gallery
  • Impala Billy Dodson
  • Impala Billy Dodson
  • Impala Craig R. Sholley
  • Impala Craig R. Sholley
  • Sekute Conservation Area Becky Walter
Challenges

Habitat fragmentation threatens impalas’ safety.

Wildlife habitats are being disrupted with the expansion of roads and settlements. As roads, such as the proposed Serengeti Highway in Tanzania, segment habitats, wildlife migrations are affected, and wildlife has difficulty moving between parks to find food, mates, and give birth. 

Solutions

Our solutions to protecting the impala:

  • Engage governments.

    African Wildlife Foundation works with government entities to help plan and propose alternative growth solutions that avoid habitat fragmentation. In the case of the Serengeti Highway, AWF provides its scientists as resources to assist in proper planning that ensures a balance between modernization and conservation.

  • Give impalas protected spaces.

    Wildlife corridors are large sections of land that allow wildlife to move from one national park to another—and even from one country to another. AWF works with people on all levels—from governments to small villages—to designate corridors and, in some cases, purchase land to set it aside for wildlife, like impalas, to move through safely as they migrate.

Projects

Will you show the impala your support?

With your help, AWF can continue working on critical initiatives like creating wildlife corridors and working with governments to prevent habitat fragmentation. Donate for a cause that will help with wildlife conservation and ensure the impala does not become an endangered species. 

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