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Last updated date: 23rd Apr 2024
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Impala Meaning

Impala deer is an African deer with large horns. Impala antelope is an attractive medium-sized antelope or an African antelope that has a binomial name of Aepyceros melampus, the male of which has ringed, lyre-shaped horns and is noted for its ability to leap. An impala animal can be often seen in large herds in open woodland in southern and East Africa. 

It is the only member of the genus Aepyceros that was first introduced to European audiences by German zoologist Hinrich Lichtenstein in 1812. The two well-known subspecies of impala deer are the common impala and the larger and darker black-faced impala.

Impala species has its taxonomy, living behaviour, distribution and habitat, reproduction process, threats, and conservation status, which we will discuss on this page. Besides the classification, you will learn about the interesting impala animal facts.

Impala Scientific Classification



Scientific name/Binomial name

Aepyceros melampus 

Discovered by Lichtenstein in 1812

Commonly Called Name



Synonym  - Discoverer and the year

A. holubi - Lorenz, 1894

A. johnstoni - Thomas, 1893

A. katangae - Lönnberg, 1914

A. pallah - Gervais, 1841

A. rendilis - Lönnberg, 1912

A. typicus - Thomas, 1893

Conservation Status

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The IUCN 3.1 data shows that the impala species are the least concerned.













Discovered by Gray in 1872



Discovered by Sundevall in 1847


A. melampus


  • A. m. melampus - Discovered by Lichtenstein in 1812

  • A. m. petersi  - Discovered by Bocage in1879


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Black-faced Impala

Common Impala

Impala Etymology

The first verified English name given to an impala animal in the year 1802 was palla or pallah, from the  word Tswana phala, also known as 'red antelope.’ 

The name impala can also be spelled impalla or mpala; this was first attested in 1875.

Sometimes Impala's Afrikaans name, like rooibok 'red buck', is also used in English.

The scientific generic name Aepyceros in an English literature means long-horned; this also comes from the ancient Greek word aipus, meaning 'high, steep') and keras, meaning 'horn'.’ 

However, the specific name melampus, meaning black-foot is taken from two words, i.e., melas, 'black') and (pous, 'foot.’

Impala Naming and Taxonomy

From the above text, we understand that the impala is the sole member of the genus Aepyceros and it belongs to the family of Bovidae, which was first described in 1812 by a German zoologist named Martin Hinrich Carl Lichtenstein.

Additionally, in the year 1984, palaeontologist Elisabeth Vrba posied an opinion that the impala is a sister taxon to the alcelaphinae that resemble the hartebeest.

In 1993, the study done phylogenetic study by Alexandre Hassanin (of the National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris) and colleagues on mitochondrial and nuclear analyses, found that the impala forms a clade (cloth) with the suni (Neotragus moschatus). 

This clade is sister to another shaped by the bay duiker (Cephalophus dorsalis) and the klipspringer (oreotragus). An rRNA and β-spectrin nuclear sequence analysis in 2003 additionally favoured a relationship among Aepyceros and Neotragus.

Impala Development

The following cladogram is entirely based on the above study:

Sheep (Ovis aries)

Bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus)

Sable antelope (Hippotragus niger)

Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus)

Bay duiker (Cephalophus dorsalis)

Impala (Aepyceros melampus)

Suni (Neotragus moschatus)

Grant's gazelle (Nanger granti)

Mountain reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula)

Up to six subspecies have been portrayed, albeit just two are for the most part perceived based on mitochondrial data. Though morphologically similar, the subspecies show a critical genetic distance among them, and no crossbreeds between them have been reported.

A. m. melampus Lichtenstein, 1812: Known as the normal impala, it happens across eastern and southern Africa. The reach stretches out from focal Kenya to South Africa and toward the west into southeastern Angola. 

A. m. petersi Bocage, 1879: Known as the black-faced impala, it is limited to southwestern Africa, happening in northwestern Namibia and southwestern Angola. 

As per Vrba, the impala was created from an alcelaphine predecessor. She noticed that while this progenitor has veered at any rate multiple times into different morphologically various structures, the impala has proceeded in its fundamental structure for in any event 5,000,000 years. Several fossil species have been found, including  A. datoadeni from the Pliocene of Ethiopia.

The most established fossil found proposes its ancient ancestors were somewhat more modest than the advanced structure yet in any case practically the same in all angles to the last mentioned. This suggests that the impala has effectively adjusted to its current circumstance since ancient occasions. Its gregarious nature, assortment in diet, positive populace pattern, guard against ticks and advantageous connection with the trick-taking care of oxpeckers might have assumed a part in forestalling significant changes in morphology and behaviour.

Impala Appearance

Impala has for the most part red-earthy coloured hide that assists them with tucking away among the brush. Yet, they include white on their paunches, jawlines, lips, internal ears, eyebrows, and tails. The tail and rear of the creature likewise include a bunch of dark stripes that structure the letter "M." Otherwise, they have darker stripes across their foreheads, thighs, and ear tips. 

Female impala, called ewes, have no horns. Be that as it may, males, the rams, develop bent horns with a striking bent appearance because of edges. These horns are black and develop up to 36 inches. 

Males measure somewhere in the range of 30 and 36 inches tall from their hooves to their shoulders. Females develop to a more modest range of 28 to 33 inches. Their length from their head to the foundation of their tail is somewhere in the range of 47 and 63 inches, for the two sexes. An impala tail adds somewhere in the range of 12 and 18 inches more to their length. 

Weight is normally 88 to 99 pounds for females and 132 to 143 pounds for males. 

Impala appendages are extensive, slim, and elegant with aromatic glands at the lower legs. These legs help them jump up to 30 feet long or up to 10 feet high. 

Impala regularly stays together in crowds of 100 to 200 creatures. For the dry season, these groups incorporate the two males and females cooperating to discover food. At the point when the rainy season starts, the group isolates into a male crowd and a female group. These new gatherings eat on the copious grasses and other vegetation.

Now, let’s understand the appearance of impala antelope in an elaborate manner:

Impala Physical Description

The impala is medium-sized, slim antelope like the kob or Grant's gazelle in form. The head-and-body length is around 130 centimetres (51 in). 

Males arrive at roughly 75–92 centimetres (30–36 in) height at the shoulder, while females are 70–85 centimetres (28–33 in) tall. males ordinarily weigh 53–76 kilograms (117–168 lb) and females 40–53 kilograms (88–117 lb). Physically dimorphic, females are hornless and more modest than males. males develop thin, lyre-molded horns 45–92 centimetres (18–36 in) long. The horns, firmly furrowed and different, are round in segments and empty at the base. Their curve-like construction permits interlocking of horns, which assists a male toss with offing his adversary during battles; horns additionally shield the skull from harm. 

The lustrous layer of the impala shows two-tone colouration – the ruddy earthy coloured back and the tan flanks; these are in sharp difference to the white underside. Facial highlights incorporate white rings around the eyes and a light jaw and nose. The ears, 17 centimetres (6.7 in) long, are tipped with dark. 

Dark streaks run from the posterior to the upper hind legs. The shaggy whitetail, 30 centimetres (12 in) long, highlights a strong dark stripe along the midline. 

The impala's colouration bears a solid similarity to the gerenuk, which has more limited horns and does not have the dark thigh stripes of the impala. The impala has aroma organs covered by a dark tuft of hair on the hindlegs. Sebaceous organs focused on the brow and scattered in the middle of predominant males are generally dynamic during the mating season, while those of females are just mostly evolved and don't go through occasional changes. There are four nipples.

Of the subspecies, the black-faced impala is altogether bigger and more obscure than the common impala; melanism is liable for the dark tinge Distinctive of the dark confronted impala is a dull stripe, on one or the other side of the nose, that runs up to the eyes and diminishes as it arrives at the brow. Different contrasts remember the bigger dark tip for the ear, and a bushier and almost 30% longer tail in the dark confronted impala.

The impala has a unique dental plan on the front lower jaw like the tooth comb seen in strepsirrhine primates, which is utilized during allogrooming to brush the hide on the head and the neck and eliminates ectoparasites.

Impala Physical Characteristics

  1. Colour: Brown, White, Tan

  2. Skin Type: Covered in Fur

  3. Top Speed: 30 mph

  4. Lifespan: 12-15 years

  5. Weight: 37-75kg (81.6-165lbs)

  6. Prefer to live in wooded savannas and dense bushland.

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Impala Ecology 

The impala is diurnal (dynamic mostly during the day), however, action will in general stop during the hot noontime hours; they feed and rest at night. Three particular gatherings of people can be noticed – the regional males, unhitched male crowds, and female herds.

The regional males hold regions where they may shape arrays of mistresses of females; domains are differentiated with pee and excrement and guarded against adolescent or male intruders.

Bachelor herds will in general be little, with under 30 individuals. People keep up distances of 2.5-3 meters (8.2-9.8 ft) from each other; while youthful and old males may connect, moderately aged males by and large stay away from each other but fight. 

Female crowds shift in size from 6 to 100; groups involve home scopes of 80–180 hectares (200-440 sections of land; 0.31–0.69 sq mi). The mother-calf bond is frail, and breaks not long after weaning; adolescents leave the crowds of their moms to join different groups. Female groups will in general be free and have no conspicuous leadership. Allogrooming is a significant method for social association in single man and female crowds; indeed, the impala seems, by all accounts, to be simply the lone ungulate to show prepping just as allogrooming. In allogrooming, females commonly groom related impala deer, while males partner with irrelevant ones. Each accomplice grooms the other six to multiple times. 

Impala Social Behaviour

The social behaviour of an impala is affected by the environment and geology; accordingly, the impala is regional at specific seasons and gregarious at different occasions, and the length of these periods can change extensively among populaces. 

For example, populations in southern Africa show regional conduct just during a couple of months of the groove, while in eastern African populaces, territoriality is moderately insignificant regardless of an extended mating season. Besides, regional males regularly endure single males, and may even switch back and forth among bachelorhood and territoriality at various seasons. An investigation of impala in the Serengeti National Park showed that in 94% of the males, territoriality was noticed for under four months.

Significance of an Impala Antelope

The impala is a significant prey species for a few carnivores, like cheetahs, panthers, and lions. The pronghorn shows two trademark jumps – it can bounce up to 3 meters (9.8 ft), over vegetation and surprisingly another impala, concealing distances of to 10 meters (33 ft); the other sort of jump includes a progression of hops where the creature lands on its forelegs, moves its hind legs mid-air in a kicking design, arrives down on the ground (stotting) and afterwards bounce back. It jumps in one or the other way in various ways, presumably to confound predators.

At times, the impala may likewise disguise itself in vegetation to get away from the eye of the predator. The most unmistakable vocalization is the uproarious thunder, conveyed through one to three noisy grunts with the mouth shut, trailed by two to ten profound snorts with the mouth open and the jaw and tail raised; an ordinary thunder can be heard as much as 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) away. Fragrance organ emissions recognize a regional male. impala deer are stationary; grown-up and moderately aged guys, specifically, can hold their domains for quite a long time.

What Does an Impala Eat?

An impala antelope peruses as well as graze; either may predominate, depending upon the availability of resources.

The impala’s diet includes monocots, dicots, forbs, fruits, and acacia pods (whichever available). Impala prefers places close to water sources and resorts to succulent vegetation if water is deficient.

An analysis showed that the diet of impala is composed of 45% monocots, 45% dicots, and 10% fruits; the proportion of grasses in the diet increases significantly (to as high as 90%) after the first rainfall, however, declines in the dry season. 

Browsing prevails in the late wet and dry season, and diets are nutritionally poor in the mid-dry season when impala feed chiefly on woody dicots. Another study demonstrated that the dicot proportion in the diet is much higher in bachelors and females than in territorial males.

Impala feeds on soft and nutritious grasses such as Digitaria macroblephara; tough, tall grasses, such as Heteropogon contortus and Themeda triandra, are typically avoided. Impala on the periphery of the herds are usually more vigilant against predators than those feeding in the centre; a foraging individual will try to defend the patch it is feeding on by lowering its head.

A study revealed that time spent in foraging reaches a maximum of 75.5% of the day in the late dry season, decreases through the rainy season, and is minimal in the early dry season (57.8%).

Impala Animal Facts

  • Around 2 million impalas live in the wild or on private land today. Around one-fourth of these lives in ensured regions in Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The populace stays stable except for a dark confronted subspecies of southwestern Angola and Kaokoland in northwestern Namibia, which at present incorporates just 1000 creatures. To assist that subspecies with dark countenances reestablish its populace, some are being ensured on private ranches in Namibia and the Etosha National Park. 

  • At up to 39 inches tall, the impala is about the size of a huge dog.

  • Male impala horns can develop to a similar length as their body tallness 

  • Impala normally remains together in crowds of 100 to 200 creatures. For the dry season, these groups incorporate the two guys and females cooperating to discover food. At the point when the wet season starts, the crowd isolates into a male group and a female group. These new gatherings nibble on the copious grasses and other vegetation. 

  • Impala Habitat 

Impala is an animal that likes to live near a water source in the forest, meadow, and savannah of Africa. In Africa, these creatures actually live all through Kenya, Botswana, Angola, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Zaire, and Tanzania. Crowds as of late started living in Gabon. However, in Burundi, neighbourhood impala is terminated. 

  • Impala Diet 

Impala demonstrates profoundly versatile herbivores. They change their eating regimen as indicated by what vegetation is accessible around them. They like to eat new grass. However, they will then, at that point, depend on numerous kinds of foliage, including spices and shoots, when there is no grass. Different food sources they eat incorporate bushes, hedges, and products of the soil cases. 

Similar to your pet house feline, the impala is particular about the water they drink. They lean toward lake or waterway water, over cloudy lakes or puddles. In any case, they can likewise eat sufficient green vegetation to keep themselves hydrated. 

  • Impala Predators and Threats 

The essential hunters of impala incorporate the following creatures of lions, panthers, cheetahs, hyenas, and wild canines. Be that as it may, numerous likewise lose their lives to jackals, people, falcons, chasing canines and caracals. At the point when the creature endeavours to drink water from a stream or neglect to focus, an impala can turn into supper for a ravenous Nile crocodile

  • Impala Reproduction, Babies and Lifespan 

Other than flagging the development of bountiful nourishment for impala, the stormy season likewise flags time for guys to seek an area predominance. The single crowd of the dry season isolates into two groups, one male and one female gathering.


  • Main Prey: Grass, Seeds, Flowers

  • Habitat: Wooded savanna and dense bushland

  • Predators: Hyena, Lion, Crocodile

  • Diet: Herbivore

  • Average Litter Size: 1

  • Lifestyle: Herd

  • Favourite Food: Grass

  • Type: Mammal

  • Slogan: Able to jump over 10 feet high

  • Predators: hyenas, lions, and crocodiles.

FAQs on Impala

Q1: How Do Impala Deer Reproduce?

Ans: An impala antelope is famous for its long, spiral horns, which male impala animals use to challenge each other in testing their strength. Ancient impala males mark off mating territories and herd female groups that they jealously protect against any rivals. 

During this tiring mating period, the male ought to defend himself from challengers, safeguard his females, and mate with them. 

After fruitful mating, females give birth to an around 11-pound fawn after seven months of gestation. They can control the birth until month eight until the conditions are fine for the fawn’s safety.

Fruitless offers to assume control over a male's domain normally end with the failure to withdraw to join a bachelor herd. 

Females ordinarily conceive an offspring around seven months after they mate, as a rule to a solitary impala. Both mother and child join a crowd of females and offspring within a couple of days.

Q2: How Do Impala Deer Safeguard Themselves from Predators?

Ans: Impala dear prefers to stay in a herd. This herd protects them from predators, like lions. A safeguarding impala barks out an alarm that signals the entire herd to flight and preying on a fleeing impala is not an easy task because impalas are fast-paced runners and they can leap distances of up to 33 feet. 

They use this ability while escaping predators and sometimes, apparently, simply to amuse themselves. Additionally, an impala can clear bushes and other obstacles by rising air at a height of 10 feet. Typically, a running impala can jump over anything it encounters in its path.

Q3: Is the Impala a Herbivore, Omnivore, or Carnivore?

Ans: Impala is herbivores with the capacity to adjust their eating routine to their environmental factors. They incline toward delicate, short grasses of the stormy season. They likewise eat leaves, shrubberies, natural products, acacia units, spices and succulents. Yet, during the troublesome occasions of the dry season, they peruse. This implies they change their eating regimen to fit accessible vegetation. In the event that the impala can't get to a stream or lake as a favoured drinking source, they frequently depend on delicious vegetation for its high water content. This keeps them hydrated until water opens up. 

Q4: How High Can an Impala Jump?

Ans: An impala can leap similarly as 30 feet outward and 10 feet high. This vertical jump is known as a pronk. Pronking, jumping again and again rapidly, once in a while befuddles a hunter, like a lion, panther, or cheetah. In the event that a crowd feels compromised by a hunter, the entire gathering pronks simultaneously. This makes an insane, befuddling scene that is a haze of ruddy earthy coloured and white fur garments. 

On the off chance that the pronking doesn't disappoint the hunter and persuade them to leave, the impala disperses rapidly. They run quickly yet cover the greater part of the ground by jumping outward. They go through that capacity to jump to 30 feet to address numerous issues on the ground, like plants, shrubs shake and bringing down trees. Their bouncing is one of their best lifesaving highlights.