The impala is a medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. The sole member of the genus, it was first described to European audiences by German zoologist Hinrichs Lichtenstein in 1812.

Size and species type

Two subspecies are the most recognized and the common impala, and the larger and darker black-faced impala. The impala reaches 70–92cm (28–36 inches) at the shoulder and weighs 40–76 kg. It features a glossy, reddish brown coat. The male’s slender, lyre-shaped horns are 45–92cm (18–36 inches) long.

 Character/ social life

Active mainly during the day, the impala may be gregarious or territorial depending upon the climate and geography. Three distinct social groups can be observed: the territorial males, bachelor herds and female herds. The impala is known for two characteristic leaps that constitute an anti-predator strategy.


Impala are browsers as well as grazers, impala feed on monocots, dicots, forbs, fruits and acacia pods. An annual, three-week-long rut takes place toward the end of the wet season, typically in May. Rutting males fight over dominance, and the victorious male courts female in oestrus. Gestation lasts six to seven months, following which a single calf is born and immediately concealed in cover. Calves are suckled for four to six months; young males—forced out of the all-female groups—join bachelor herds, while females may stay back.

Natural environment

Impala are found in woodlands and sometimes on the interface between woodlands and savannahs; it inhabits places close to water. While the black-faced impalas are confined to southwestern Angola and Kaokoland in northwestern Namibia, the common impala is widespread across its range and has been reintroduced in Gabon and southern Africa. In Uganda impalas are commonly seen in lake mburo national, the 0only protected area that offers safari on foot, visit Uganda to enjoy viewing a variety of wildlife while at your safari on foot plus other activities like the game drives and boat cruise adventure.


Males are sexually mature by the time they are a year old, though successful mating generally occurs only after four years. Mature males start establishing territories and try to gain access to females. Females can conceive after they are a year and a half old; oestrus lasts for 24 to 48 hours, and occurs every 12–29 days in non-pregnant females. The annual three-week-long rut (breeding season) begins toward the end of the wet season, typically in May. Gonadal growth and hormone production in males begin a few months before the breeding season, resulting in greater aggressiveness and territoriality. The bulbourethral glands are heavier, testosterone levels are nearly twice as high in territorial males as in bachelors, and the neck of a territorial male tends to be thicker than that of a bachelor during the rut. Mating tends to take place between full moons.

Territorial protection

Rutting males fight over dominance, often giving out noisy roars and chasing one another; they walk stiffly and display their neck and horns. Males desist from feeding and all grooming during the rut, probably to devote more time to garnering females in oestrus; the male checks the female’s urine to ensure that she is in oestrus. On coming across such a female, the excited male begins the courtship by pursuing her, keeping a distance of 3–5 m (9.8–16.4 ft) from her. The male flicks his tongue and may nod vigorously; the female allows him to lick her vulva, and holds her tail to one side. The male tries mounting the female, holding his head high and clasping her sides with his forelegs. Mounting attempts may be repeated every few seconds to every minute or two. The male loses interest in the female after the first copulation, though she is still active and can mate with other males.


Gestation period is 6-7 months. Births generally occur in the midday; the female will isolate herself from the herd when labor pain begins. The perception that females can delay giving birth for an additional month if conditions are harsh may however not be realistic.  A single calf is born, and is immediately concealed in cover for the first few weeks of its birth. The fawn then joins a nursery group within its mother’s herd. Calves are suckled for four to six months; young males, forced out of the group, join bachelor herds, while females may stay back.