(Aepyceros melampus)




Facts about this animal

The Impala is a graceful, slender, medium-sized antelope with a head-body length of 120-160 cm and a shoulder height of 75-95 cm and a weight of 30 (females) to 65 (males) kg. The eyes and the black-tipped ears are large. There are no antorbital glands. The legs are long and slender with short hooves and no dew-claws, the hind legs with a characteristic tuft of black hair on the lower rear edge covering the tarsal glands. The tail is relatively short, measuring 30-45 cm.

The coat of the impala is shining reddish-brown on the upperparts and paler on the flanks. The underparts are pure white. The underside of the tail is white, he upper surface light brown with a thin median black stripe. Depending pof the subspecies, there are black markings on the face. Each buttock has a vertical black blaze. The male's lyre-shaped horns are slender, up to 80 (South Africa) to 90 (East Africa) cm long, and have strong ridges. Females are similar to the males but somewhat smaller and lighter and do not have horns.

The rams are very territorial during the rut. They are very vocal during that period, mark their territories with urine and faeces, and defend them against other males. The owner of a territory attempts to control any female herds which wander into it. For the rest of the year the rams live in bachelor herds. The ewes, together with their lambs, live in herds of up to 15-20 animals, occupying a larger territory which will overlap with the territories of several males. During the dry months, they may congregate into groups of more than 100.

After a gestation period of 6.5 to 7 months (194-200 days), one single lamb is born with a birth-weight of about 5 kg. Two birthing peaks are in spring and in autumn. After birth, the lambs lie concealed away from their mother, subsequently joining a 'kindergarten' group with other animals of the same age. The lambs are weaned after 4-6 months.

Impalas are active throughout the 24-hour day, alternating resting and grazing, and drinking at least once a day. They graze and browse, and depending of the season their food will consist primarily of short grasses or of foliage. In addition they eat blossoms and fruit as may be available.

Prodigious leaps are the most well known feature of the impala's movement. Executed seemingly without effort, these jumps may span over 9 meters and may be 2.5 meters high.

Did you know?
that most impala fawns are born around noon? This is the safest time to give birth since most potential predators, such as cheetahs, leopards and lions, are resting.


Name (Scientific) Aepyceros melampus
Name (English) Impala
Name (French) Impala
Name (German) Impala
Name (Spanish) Impala
Local names Afrikaans: Rooibok
isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu: impalaki
Swahili: swala palasePedi
seSotho, seTswana: phalachi
Shona: mhara
siSwati: mpalatshi
Venda: phala
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Prof. Berger, University of the Witwatersrand



Range Eastern and Southern Afica: Angola, Botswana, Congo DR, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Extinct in Burundi
Habitat Savannah
Wild population 1,584,000 Common Impala and 2,200 Black-faced Impala (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 843 reported to ISIS (2007), including animals at the Game Breeding Centres of the National zoo of South Africa.

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Requirement 73 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Road transport (according to the South African Standard SANS 10331): Transport family groups of females and lambs in mass crates without adult rams. Transport adult rams in individual crates or together in compartments in a mass crate, tranquillized and with the horns piped. If crated individually, the crates should be placed transversely on the transport vehicle, so that the heads of the animals face outwards.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Prof. Berger, University of the Witwatersrand

Why do zoos keep this animal

Except for the Namibian subspecies, the impala is not threatened. Zoos keep impalas therefore primarily for educational reasons, ideally as part of a mixed African savannah exhibit. Being a very handsome antelope, the impala is also a good ambassador species for African wildlife in general.

The black-faced impala, i.e. the subspecies petersi, has a limited distribution in north-western Namibia and south-western Angola and is rated vulnerable. As impalas of the South African subspecies melampus have been introduced to game farms next to the black-faced impala’s range, there is a risk of genetic pollution. A few European zoos have therefore established a coordinated breeding programme with a view of maintaining a viable ex situ population.