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Impala - did you know

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Impala - did you know



Aepyceros melampus


  • Only male has horns.
  • Impala have a unique characteristic. They have tufts of black hair on the lower edge of the hind leg. The black tufts enclose a glandular patch of skin, called the metatursal gland.

Impala - metatursal gland

It is believed that this gland plays a role in communication with other herd members and that f.e. during alarm leaps the gland is fluffed open to leave an airborn scent trail for the rest of the herd to follow.

  • Impala rams have a glandular patch of skin on the base of their horns. Dominant males will rub this patch through or onto bushes during the rutting-season.
  • Impala are one of the few antelopes that can be seen grooming each other. This is mostly seen between a female and her offspring.

  • Impala will browse or graze. They will also eat fruits, flowers and acacia pods when available.


  • Most of the year impala live in bachelor herds (males of all ages) and breeding herds (adult females, young males and females and 1 or 2 adult males) Females will grow up in their natal herd.

In January the adult males in bachelor herds become aggressive. They will give roaring calls and will fight each other by horn clashing and pushing.


This will break up the bachelor herds and males that are old enough and in good physical condition will establish territories.

Unsuccesful males will reform bachelor herds and will keep away from the territories that have been set up.


Impala ram roaring

In March a territorial ram will start herding females and chasing young males out of the breeding herd.

In May (peak of the breeding season) the ram's body-condition deteriorates quickly as he spends all his time chasing out intruders, sheperding females and mating. At this time he may be displaced by a fresher challenger.

  • A single young is born after a gestation period of about 6 months. The mother and calf will rejoin the herd after 1-2 days. Impalas place the young in creches. Young impala are weaned at 4,5 months.
  • Alarmed impalas can highjump without effort. These jumps may span over 9 metres and can be up to 3 metres high.


  • Shoulder height 75-95 cm




Wild Ways – Peter Apps 

Beat about the Bush – Trevor Carnaby

Safari Companion - Richard D. Estes

Behaviour guide to African mammals - Richard D. Estes

Kingdon Field Guide to African mammals - Jonathan Kingdon





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