Impala

Aepyceros melampus

The impala is a medium-sized African antelope. It is the type species of the genus ''Aepyceros'' and belongs to the family Bovidae. It was first described by German zoologist Martin Hinrich Carl Lichtenstein in 1812. Two subspecies of the impala have been recognised: the common impala and the black-faced . They are typically between 120–160 cm long. Males stand up to approximately 75–92 cm at the shoulder and weigh 53–76 kg , while females are 70–85 cm and 40–53 kg . Both are characterised by a glossy, reddish brown coat. Only the males have the characteristic slender, lyre-shaped horns, which can grow to be 45–92 cm long.

The impala inhabits savanna grasslands and woodlands close to water sources. It is a mixed forager, whose diet consists of grasses, forbs, monocots, dicots and foliage. It switches between grazing and browsing depending on the season and habitat. Water is an essential requirement. Impala are fast runners and are known for their leaping ability, reaching heights up to 3 m . They communicate using a variety of unique visual and vocal cues. There are three distinct social groups during the wet season: the female herds, the bachelor herds and the territorial males. The mating season is the three-week-long period toward the end of the wet season in May. A single fawn is born after a gestational period of about six to seven months. The fawn remains with its mother for four to six months, after which it joins juvenile groups.

The impala is native to Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Regionally extinct in Burundi, it has been introduced in two protected areas of Gabon. The black-faced impala is confined to Kaokoland and southwestern Angola. The common impala has been widely introduced in southern Africa. Though there are no major threats to the survival of the species as a whole, poaching and natural calamities have significantly contributed to the decline of the black-faced subspecies. While the common impala has been listed as of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature , the black-faced has been rated as Vulnerable.

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