Impala Rutting SeasonApril 25, 2017
Commonly found in most areas of Southern and Eastern Africa, the humble Impala is often overlooked on safari in favour of more ‘exciting’ wildlife.
However, despite their abundant population, impala can be even more impressive to watch than many other animals. Graceful, gentle and down-right gorgeous – it’s always worth spending some time observing impala in their natural environment.
The most thrilling time to observe impala is during the ‘rutting season’. As winter approaches, the days begin to shorten the impala rams’ testosterone levels start skyrocketing. This makes them a more aggressive with each other and they begin to start practicing their rutting (fighting) skills.
At first, it’s very much just for show, but as the months go on and the days shorten, the fights get more and more serious and eventually in May, the rut reaches its peak. During this time, serious battles between the males can be witnessed and the noise of the rut can be heard from miles away as the dominant males ‘bark and snort’ to proclaim their victories.
Once an impala ram has taken charge of a herd of females, he must then attempt to mate with as many females as possible, while still defending his territory from the other bachelors. It’s a lot for one impala to manage and doesn’t generally take long before the dominant male is so weak, that his competitors can push him out and get some of their genetics into the mix. It’s a very exciting time of year indeed with lots of activity going on in the herds.
After a six to seven-month gestation period, the females begin to drop their babies and thus begins the cute season! After all, there are few things as adorable as an impala lamb. With the arrival of the babies, predator activity also increases. Impala are a firm favourite snack with wild dogs and many other predators, so there’s a chance you might even witness a hunt going down.
Don’t be fooled next time you’re on safari, while impala might seem a little mundane after the fiftieth sighting , it may just be worth sticking around the herd for a while. You never know what might happen!
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