It is impossible to visit Kruger National Park without seeing Impala. There are an estimated 150,000 in Kruger and it may be the very first animal and certainly the first antelope you will encounter when entering the park.
The Impala is a medium sized antelope with a glossy reddish-brown coat which is darker on the back and upper flanks and paler on the legs and lower flanks. Its underparts. buttocks and underside of tail are white with a black stripe separating the brown and white areas on the buttocks. There is a black stripe down the tail. Impala have black tufts just above the ankle of the hind legs which is unique to the species. There are white patches above the eyes and white on the tip of the muzzle. The ears are large with small black tips and there is a black patching the middle of the top of the head. Only the males have horns which are long, lyre shaped with strong ridges on the lower two-thirds.
Impalas prefer open woodlands and near water as they are dependent, and are never far from it. Its diet consists of grasses, flowers, fruits, leaves and pods according to availability. Grass is preferred if available.
Breeding is stimulated by shorter day length usually beginning in May in Kruger National Park with a gestation of 194-200 days. Single lambs are born and are hidden for a day or two before joining the herd. Females stay with the herd in which they were born but males leave and join bachelor herds often after being driven out by the dominant ram.
Since Impala are prey to many of the predators in Kruger herd vigilance is important and there will always be one or two in the herd watching while others are feeding. Males are more vigilant than the females. Sudden alarms cause herds to scatter explosively in all directions with graceful leaps of up to three meters high and twelve meters long (called prancing). Impala respond specifically to the alarm calls of baboons.
I always enjoy watching the Impalas even if many of the other animals seem to be hiding.