The graceful impala is one of the most common antelopes and is found in virtually all national parks and reserves in large numbers.
A medium-sized antelope, it stands about 80 cm at the shoulder. The coat is a glossy rufous colour though paler on the flanks with the underparts, rump, throat and chin being white. A narrow black line runs along the middle of the rump to about halfway down the tail and there’s also a vertical black stripe on the back of the thighs but, unlike in Grant’s gazelle, this does not border the white buttocks. It’s also distinguishable from Grant’s gazelle by having a tuft of long black hair above the heels of the hind legs. Only the males have horns which are long (averaging 75 cm), lyre-shaped and curve upwards as they spread.
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Impala are gregarious animals; each male has a ‘harem’ of up to 100 females, though more usually around 15 to 20. Males without a ‘harem’ form bachelor groups. Fierce fighting occurs between males in rutting season, otherwise they’re quite placid animals.
One of the most noticeable characteristics of impala is their speed and prodigious ability at jumping They are quite capable of clearing 10m in a single jump lengthwise or three metres in height and this the frequently do even when there are no obstacles in the path.
Impala are both browsers and grazers and are active during the day and by night. They are quite highly dependent on water but are capable of existing on just dew for fairly long periods. Their main predators are leopard, cheetah and hunting dogs.