Captured Location: The Kruger National Park, SOUTH AFRICA
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Lens: VR 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6 D
Focal Length: 400mm
1/500 sec – F/5.6
Sensitivity: ISO 200
The lighter but not the smaller of the two sub-species, more richly coloured and by far the most common antelope in the sub-region.
In common with the black-faced impala is the presence on the lower back legs of the distinctive, conspicuous, oval tufts of black hair, like socks, overlaying metatarsal glands in the skin. On the stern of the males is a small bare glandular patch which secretes an oily substance. Only males have horns, lyrate in shape, maximum length about 80cm.
Form large breeding herds of up to 100, or even in exceptional cases up to 200, but more usually up to 20. These consist of young, females and sub-adult males, watchfully aloof from the herd. Potentially dominant males form juvenile and young adult bachelor herds, which generally keep away from the breeding herd. At times of rut the bachelor adults become restless, often leaving the heard to form their own breeding herd. With much roaring and aggression they may disrupt a breeding herd, for possession of which they challenge and fight the dominant males.
They are diurnal animals, but the dominant male will graze little in die day, preferring to stay alert and grazing mainly at night. Their voice is a harsh warning barking snort, bellowing and grunting in rut and a soft bleating by the calves in contact with the mother, or louder when lost.
Impala are the major food component of the larger predators where they occur mutually, such as lion, leopard, cheetah, hunting dog, spotted hyaena and the crocodile. Young are taken by the larger eagles, pythons and jackals. The females bear a single calf in isolation from the herd in thick bush or tall grass and eat the afterbirth. The whole crop of births takes place together. Young are hidden for a day or two and are usually able to join the herd with their mother 24 hours after birth; otherwise they are kept hidden for a few days. Remain with the herd about 15 months, after which the males are driven out to join the bachelor groups.
Food Browse and graze; in dry season tend to congregate in greener riverine areas. Eat tender tip twigs and leaves of shrubs and trees, favouring acacias. Depend upon availability of water and the presence of a herd is usually evidence of nearby water.