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(long, lyre-shaped horns)
The impala is a medium-sized antelope with a dark brown back fading to a medium brown flank and a white underbelly.
Only the males have horns
58-70 cm (23-28 in.)
58-64 cm (23-25 in.)
45.5-79.5 kg (100-175 lb.)
Smaller and lighter than males
Includes grasses, herbs, shrubs, and fruits
Gestation lasts approximately 6-7 months; female typically gives birth to a single offspring
Approximately 13 months, but rarely reproduces before 2 years
Southern and Eastern Africa
Inhabits dry forests, gallery forests, level and mountain country
Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent
To attract a mate, the male impala's neck swells and a strong secretion covers head and neck. Both sexes have scent glands located above their rear hooves, marked by black tufts.
Although its physical dimensions are indicative of a large gazelle, certain details of its anatomy and behavior causes the impala to be classified in a group of its own. Specifically, its gregarious nature and tendency to inhabit relatively dense brush separate it from the gazelle tribe.
The impala's ability to both graze and browse allow it to live in greater numbers as a result of a larger, more reliable food supply to choose from. Medium-sized antelope do not have this choice.
Amazing jumpers, impalas are able to take bounds of almost 40 feet, up to 10 feet high. When under attack from predators within pouncing range, the herd scatters in every direction in order to confuse the predator.
More dependent on vocal communication than most other antelope, the impala is capable of guttural grunts and roars that are audible up to a mile away. This is likely an adaptation to their tendency to utilize more closed environments.
Males maintain a territory, rather than a set herd into which they try to attract mates. In fact, males can spend up to one-quarter of their day trying to round up receptive females, which greatly reduces the time he spends feeding. This energy consuming activity usually gives a male reign for only 3 months before he becomes too weak to ward off competitors. However, males usually prefer the same territorial areas they first won so after recuperating in bachelor herds, they will try to regain their former territory. Thus, the male that replaces the current head of the area is usually the former leader.
ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION
Impalas are an important food source for many larger predators, especially cheetahs, lions, hyenas, etc. Young impalas may be taken by birds of prey such as Martial eagles.
These animals are probably the most common and most commonly seen antelope in eastern Africa. One subspecies, the black-faced impala is endangered, but both species suffer from over-hunting.
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Mammals-Their Latin Names Explained
. Poole, U.K.: Blandford Press Btd., 1979.
Nowak, R. (ed.).
Walkers Mammals of the World. Vol. II
, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.
Parker, S.P. (ed.).
Grizmek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol 5
. New York: McGraw Hill Pub. Co., 1990.