A Medium-sized antelope. Rich chestnut brown, darker on the back and upper flanks, paler on the legs and lower flanks. White/cream on the under parts and buttocks and the underside of the tail. A black stripe runs down the top of the tail, and two black stripes down the buttocks, separating the brown and white areas. Black tufts just above the ankle. There are white patches above the eyes, and white on the tip of the muzzle. The ears are large, with small black tips. There is a black patch in the middle of the top of the head, and the top of the muzzle is variably darker brown in impala, extensively black in black-faced impala. Only males bear horns, long and lyre-shaped, strongly ridged on the lower two thirds, smooth towards the gently tapering, sharp tips. Females have two pairs of mammae between their hind legs. Average total length males 1,6 m, females 1,55 m; tail males 30 cm and females 27 cm. Average shoulder height males 90 cm, females 85 cm; weight males 54,5 kg, females 41 kg.
Open woodland. Dependent on water and stays within 8-15km from water.
Active mainly during the day. Females and young live in breeding herds, usually of about 6-20, which often include a few adult males. In January bachelor herds fragment as males’ testosterone levels escalate in response to short day length. Fighting becomes more frequent and intense and males thrash bushes with their horns. They 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. Persistent intruders are attacked: fights involve charges and wrestling with locked horns, and are short but serious; injuries and deaths are not uncommon. Losers are pursued and gored in the flanks if overtaken. Herd vigilance is important for detecting predators. Within each herd there will nearly always be at least one animal not feeding or drinking at any particular time. Sudden alarms cause herds to scatter explosively in all directions, with graceful leaps up to 3 m high and 12 m long. They jump through narrow gaps in undergrowth and fences.
The incisor teeth are loose in their sockets so that they can be used to comb ticks out of the coat, and impala spend more time grooming than other antelope. 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 means of removing ticks from areas that each animal cannot groom for itself. Territorial rams do not have time to groom, and they carry six times more ticks.
African Elephant | African Fish Eagle | Banded Mongoose | Bat-Eared Fox | Black-Backed Jackal | Blue Wildebeest | Burchell’s Zebra | Bushbuck | Cape Buffalo | Cape Rock Hyrax | Chacma Baboon | Greater Flamingo | Grey Lourie | Grey Rheebuck | Hadeda Ibis | Helmeted Guineafowl | Hippopotamus | Impala | Klipspringer | Kudu | Large Spotted Genet | Leopard | Lesser Bushbaby | Lion | Ostrich | Red Squirrel | Reedbuck | Samango Monkey | Secretary Bird | Side-Striped Jackal | Southern Ground Hornbill | Spotted Hyaena | Springbok | Suricate | Thick-Tailed Bushbaby | Tree Squirrel | Trumpeter Hornbill | Vervet Monkey | White Rhinoceros