Definitions

impala

impala

[im-pal-uh, -pah-luh]
impala, species of antelope, Aepyceros melampus, closely related to the gazelle and found in the savannah and bush country of E and S Africa. It is the antelope most commonly depicted in illustrations and in motion pictures. It is about 3 ft (90 cm) high at the shoulder, with a coat of rich, reddish brown, shading to whitish on the underparts. The horns, borne only by the male, are long and curved in the shape of a lyre. Impalas are the most powerful jumpers of all antelopes; they can leap 10 ft (3 m) into the air and travel 30 ft (9 m) in a single bound. Impalas live in herds, sometimes numbering several hundred individuals; they feed on grasses and shrubs and always stay fairly near water. They are often found in association with herds of other animals, such as zebras and gnus. Impalas are still fairly numerous over most of their range. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Bovidae.

Herd of male impalas (Aepyceros melampus) in Nairobi National Park, Kenya

Swift-running, graceful antelope (Aepyceros melampus) found in large herds, usually near water, on the savannas and open woodlands of central and southern Africa. Impalas are noted for their jumping ability; when alarmed, they bound off in leaps up to 30 ft (9 m) long and 10 ft (3 m) high. Lightly built, the impala stands 30–40 in. (75–100 cm) high at the shoulder. It has a golden to reddish brown coat, white underparts, a vertical black stripe on each thigh, and a black tuft behind each hind hoof. The male has long, lyre-shaped horns.

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An impala (Aepyceros melampus Greek αιπος, aipos "high" κερος, ceros "horn" + melas "black" pous "foot") is a medium-sized African antelope. The name impala comes from the Zulu language. They are found in savannas and thick bushveld in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, northern Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, southern Angola, northeastern South Africa and Uganda (the source of that country's capital city's name - Kampala).

Appearance

Average mass for an Impala is approximately 75 kilograms. They are reddish-brown in color with lighter flanks, have white underbellies and a characteristic "M" marking on its rear. Males have lyre-shaped horns which can reach up to 90 centimeters in length.

Ecology

Impala are among the dominant species in many savannas. They can adapt to different environment by being grazers in some areas and browsers in others. They graze when the grass is green and growing and browse at other times. They will browse on shoots, seedpods and foliage.

Herds will use specific areas for their excrement. Impala are active during both day and night and are dependent on water. A herd is normally an indicator of water close by. Impala can thrive in areas where pure grazers can not survive.

When frightened or startled the whole impala herd starts leaping about in order to confuse their predator. They can jump distances more than 9 meters (30 ft) and 2.5 meters (8 ft) high. Leopards, cheetah, Nile crocodiles, lions, spotted hyenas and wild dogs prey on impala.

Social structure and reproduction

Females and young form herds of up to two hundred individuals. When food is plentiful, adult males will establish territories and round up any female herd that enter their grounds and will chase away bachelor males that follow. They will even chase away recently weaned males. A male impala tries to prevent any female from leaving its territory. During the dry seasons, territories are abandoned as herds must travel farther to find food. Large, mixed tranquil herds of females and males form.

Young male impala who have been made to leave their previous herd form bachelor herds of around thirty individuals. Males that are able to dominate their herd are contenders for assuming control of their territory.

The breeding season of impala, also called rutting, begins toward the end of the wet season in May. The entire affair typically lasts approximately three weeks. While young are born after seven months, the mother has the ability to prolong giving birth for an additional month if conditions are harsh. When giving birth a female impala will isolate herself from the herd despite numerous attempts by the male to keep her in his territory. The impala mother will keep the fawn in an isolated spot for a few days or even leave it lying out in hiding for a couple days, weeks, or more before returning to the herd. There the fawn will join a nursery group and will go to its mother only to nurse and when predators are near. Fawns are suckled for 4 to 6 months. Males who mature are forced out of the group and will join bachelor herds.

Taxonomy

In the past, taxonomists have put the impala in the same tribe as gazelles, kobs and hartebeests. However it was found that the impala was so different from any of these tribes that it was put in its own tribe, Aepycerotini respectively.

Usually two subspecies are distinguished, which is supported by mitochondrial DNA analysis:

References

External links


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