Impala - Aepyceros melampus melampus

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Afrikaans Rooibok Zulu Mpala  
Phala Shangaan Mbala Shona Mhara
Photo Kobus Hugo
R.W. Min 23" Max 31"
S.C.I Min 54" Max 67" Measurement Method 1

wpe1C.jpg (8691 bytes)

7 cm


1.5 cm
Tapered at one end, blunt or hollow at the other
Deposited in middens

Visible Male/Female Differences

Only males have horns.

Habitat and Distribution

Open woodland. Dependent on water and stays within 8-15km from water.


A very selective grazer and browser. Eats flowers, fruits, pods, bark and fallen leaves. Grass is preferred.


Single lambs weighing 5 kg, is born  after a gestation of 194-200 days. Lambs lie hidden for a day or two. Breeding stimulated by shorter day length, peaking at the dark phase of the moon in autumn. Breeding and birth seasons are short, but occur at different times in different localities. Females first lamb at 2 years; males are sexually mature at 13 months, but do not breed until 4-5 years old, when they establish territories. Lifespan 12 years. Males fight during the rutting season and utter loud, short roars. When fighting the tongue flickers in and out of the mouth with simultaneous contractions of the testicles. Territory holders advertise their status by 'roaring', which sounds like a mixture of cough and belch, with the neck stretched forward and the head tipped upwards, and parading with the penis extended.

Behavior and Habits

Impala.gif (30847 bytes)Active during the day. Females and young live in breeding herds, usually of about 6-20, which may include a few adult males. In January bachelor herds split up as males' testosterone levels escalate and fighting becomes more frequent and intense. Males thrash bushes with their horns, urinate and defecate in large middens and scent mark by rubbing their foreheads on twigs and grass. Intruders are deterred by snorting, chasing and threats with the horns. Unrepentant intruders are attacked with charges and fencing with locked horns,. Skirmishes are   short but serious and injuries such as broken horns and death are not uncommon. Alarmed impala will scatter in all directions, run away fast interspaced with graceful leaps up to 3 m high and 12 m long.

The incisor teeth are loose in their sockets and used for grooming. They are also the only one of the medium and small antelope that usually have oxpecker birds on them. Reciprocal grooming between herd members is an important social time and removes ticks from areas that individual cannot reach. Territorial rams are too busy to groom and they carry six times more ticks.


A roar followed by a series of snorts. A snort is the alarm call and a soft grunt is made when undisturbed.

Dung and Field sign

During the rut, horned bushes, middens. The dung pellets are 1,5 cm long, tapered at one end, blunt or hollow at the other.



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