Mopane and acacia woodland are their favorite stomping grounds where they remain among the trees, avoiding crossing large open areas or venturing on to the plains. The graceful impala is a noisy antelope renowned for its agile leaps.
Impala are fiercely territorial animals and do not often venture into new areas or migrate. During the 1970’s a number of black faced impala where captured in the Kunene region of Namibia and released at Ombika, Halali and Namutoni after a period of quarantine. This is where they are still found today. A few of these once endangered antelope have since been returned to conservancies near Kunene where they have been placed in the custody of interested locals.
The impala is reddish-brown with white hair inside the ears, over each eye and on the chin, upper throat, under parts, and buttocks. A narrow black line runs along the middle of the lower back to the tail, and a vertical black stripe appears on the back of each thigh. Impalas have unique brush-like tufts of black hair that cover a scent gland located just above the heel on each hind leg. The female is similar to the male but does not have horns. The male's graceful lyre-shaped horns are 18 to 37 in. long, and deeply ringed for most of their length making this animal a favorite species for photographers.
Behavior and Diet
Impalas have more well-adjusted diets than many other antelopes.
Able to both graze and browse, the impala has a greater and more reliable food supply than animals that do either one or the other. It eats young grass shoots in the wet season and herbs and shrubs at other times.
The impala’s social organization allows it to adapt to environmental conditions. When food is plentiful, males become territorial, shepherding females about their land. In dry periods, territories are abandoned as herds must travel farther to find food.
A surprised impala herd will leap about in what appears to be a disorganized way. However, this reaction actually helps keep the herd together. Initially, an individual impala leaps up, casting about from left to right, bringing individuals into contact with each other. High jumps also allow impalas to release signals from the fetlock scent gland in midair. This scent is easier for a rapidly running impala to pick up.
Young are born year-round, but birth peaks usually coincide with the rains. The female leaves the herd and seeks a secluded spot to bear her fawn. If the fawn is born at a time when there are few other young around, the mother will stay with it in seclusion for a few days, or even a week or more before returning to the herd. If there are many other fawns, she may take hers back to the herd in a day or two, where a nursery group may form. Nursery groups are safer because predators have more difficulty selecting an individual.
The young are suckled for four to six months and reach maturity at a little over a year. The young males, however, are evicted from their mothers' groups when they are 6.