A grazing antelope from Africa which lives in single-sex herds. The males have impressive lyre-shaped horns.
Meaning of scientific name
Aepyceros': from Aipos (Greek) high; keras (Greek) horn (because of the large horns on the males). 'Melampus': from Melas (Greek) black; pous (Greek) the foot (because of the black glands on the hind feet)
Up to 15 years.
Males are 148cm long, standing 91cm at the shoulder; females are 128cm, standing 86cm at the shoulder, both with a tail of 30cm.
A small grazing antelope with a light reddish-brown coat, paler flanks and white belly. There are dark and white rings around the eyes, and black vertical stripe either side of the tail, which also has a black stripe. The ears have black tips. The limbs are delicate, and there are black scent glands on the hind ankles. The male has lyre-shaped ridged horns.
South Africa up to Kenya and Namibia to Mozambique.
Open woodland, often near water.
Grasses, leaves and fruit.
Impala live in the wooded areas, browsing and grazing vegetation as they move. Males and females have different social groups. Females form small, mobile herds whilst males tend to have individual territories. They are active in periods throughout the day and night, and usually need to drink at least once a day. They are very agile, but flee into dense vegetation if attacked.
Breeding occurs twice a year, with males mating with females which enter their territory. Gestation is 6.5-7 months, and births occur in spring and autumn. A single youngster is born, which lies concealed for the first few weeks, only being nursed occasionally by the mother. Then it will join a creche of other youngsters. Weaning occurs at 4-6 months, and sexual maturity is reached at 1 year for females, 1.5 for males.
Currently 'Low risk - conservation dependent'.
Males make a hoarse call during breeding.
The first artiodactyls (also called the 'even-toed ungulates') were present in the Eocene forests. The horned ruminants (deer, giraffe, antelope & cattle) first appear in the Miocene, taking advantage of the opening plains. The grazing antelopes like the impala evolved to take advantage of all the grass-dominated environments in Africa.