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Impala

Male Impala
Kingdom : Animalia
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Artiodactyla
Family : Bovidae
Subfamily : Aepycerotinae
Genus : Aepyceros
Species : melampus

Height : 29-36in (73-92cm)
Weight : 99-132lbs (45-60kg)

IUCN Status : Least Concern, but Aepyceros melampus petersi (Black Faced Impala) is listed as vulnerable

Impalas are found in Eastern Africa in light woodland and grassland areas. The species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with the males growing slightly larger than the females. Males are also the only sex to have horns, which grow in a S-shape to a size of up to 35in (90cm).

Impalas have a really interesting social structure, living in specific group types during different parts of the year. During the wet season young males whoa re non-territorial will form bachelor herds, and females and juveniles form herds that can number over 100 individuals. They will enter territories that are controlled by breeding-age males, and will remain in that territory throughout the season. At the end of the wet season, breeding (rutting) season occurs, and lasts about three weeks.

After rutting the dry season happens, and herds move more frequently and males are less territorial. Adult males will even travel with the female and juvenile herds in search of food and water. Female Impalas give birth in isolation, and will return to the herd after a day or two. Her calf will join a nursery group along with other young Impalas and will return to its mother to feed.

Female Impala, taken at MCZ
One rather interesting fact about the Impala is that it has a varied, adaptable diet. They are able to both graze and browse, and feed on numerous types of grasses, leaves, and seeds. This allows them to obtain a  nutritious diet throughout the wet and dry seasons, and keeps them from having to undergo the migrations that many other African mammals do.

Overall, Impalas are abundant and have a stable population trend. However, one subspecies, the Black-Faced Impala, is in pretty bad shape. Most are found in Namibia's Etosha National Park, where they are protected. Their numbers have been steadily growing, but interbreeding with Common Impalas has impacted their gene pool.

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