Tag Archives: Impala

Satara Summer 2021 – Mingling with Antelope

The Kruger National Park is home to 21 different kinds of antelope – more than any other protected area in our country. Along with zebras and warthogs they form the staple prey for the majority of the large predators in the Park.

The Satara area of the park, which we visited in December 2021, hosts the largest concentrations of Blue Wildebeest in Kruger. Most Wildebeest calves are born at this time of the year, when the summer rains bring a flush of green fodder for the lactating cows.

Bushbuck aren’t seen around Satara all that often; the veld is generally too open for their liking in this part of the Park and any sightings are likely to be along the stream courses where the riverine vegetation provides the cover and browse they need.

The S36 road linking Satara and Orpen to the picnic spots at Muzandzeni and Nhlanguleni is usually reliable for finding Common Duikers, and if you are lucky these shy little antelope may stand still for a second or two so you can take a picture.

It is a real pity that the Impala is so numerous in Kruger that most visitors seem to not even spare them a second glance. They are actually really athletic and beautiful antelope.

Joubert got these photographs of two impala rams sparring.

The birth of Impala lambs are timed to occur en masse at the end of November and into early December. The lambs congregate into a “creche” within the herd when they’re at rest, but can often be seen running and chasing each other around – seems they have boundless energy.

In the evening of the 31st of December, along the Sweni Road (S126), we encountered a huge herd of Impalas. They were on the move, relinquishing the open plain where they were feeding for denser bush in which to spend the night. We spent several minutes with the herd as they walked off until the whole plain was abandoned.

Owing to the general scarcity of suitable rocky habitats around Satara, our only Klipspringer sighting of the entire 3 weeks we spent in that part of the Kruger Park was at an outcrop to the south of Tshokwane.

Three Klipspringers near Tshokwane

The open, thorny savanna around Satara supports a high density of the magnificent Greater Kudu and they can easily be seen along any of the roads that radiate from the camp.

By contrast, the Nyala is rarely encountered in this part of the Park and while they’re sometimes seen along the course of the Nwaswitsontso River south of Satara we had to go north to the banks of the Olifants River this time around to see this impressive bull.

Nyala bull

The Steenbok is the small antelope seen most often around Satara – they find the open grasslands perfectly to their liking.

The less I say about the expression on these Steenbokkies’ faces after mating, the better probably…

The Tsessebe is one of the rarest antelope in the Kruger National Park, and is not found near Satara. We undertook a day’s outing north to the Mopani area of the Park specifically to go looking for them, and luckily did not return to Satara with nothing to show for our effort.

Another large antelope you would defnitely encounter when visiting Satara is the Waterbuck. They’re quite numerous along the courses of the Nwanetsi and Gudzani streams to the east of the camp.

How’s this for getting a name right?

Impala Street is a road through the staff village at Skukuza in the Kruger National Park, and it leads past the indigenous nursery where the public may purchase local plants for their gardens at very reasonable cost. And just to prove how well deserved the name is, a male Impala was available to pose perfectly on cue for Joubert to take this picture in September.

We should have taken a drive to Lion Street, just in case…

Impala Street is a road through the staff village at Skukuza in the Kruger National Park, and it leads past the indigenous nursery where the public may purchase local plants for their gardens at very reasonable cost. And just to prove how well deserved the name is, a male Impala was available to pose perfectly on cue for Joubert to take this picture in September.

An impala celebrity and his posse

This adult Impala ram was followed quite dutifully by his much younger companions, who seemed to hang on his every word like real celebrity groupies would. Seen in September near Crocodile Bridge in the Kruger National Park.

This adult Impala ram was followed quite dutifully by his much younger companions, who seemed to hang on his every word like real celebrity groupies would.

Eye Spy

An irritating fly homing in on its target; the eye of an impala ewe in the Kruger National Park.

Impala being targeted by a biting fly

Impala being targeted by a biting fly

Eye Spy” is the theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge

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Common Impala

Aepyceros melampus melampus

The impala is a familiar sight in many of South Africa’s reserves and national parks, and often so numerous that most visitors do not give them more than a passing glance, which is a huge pity. They are medium sized antelope, standing around 90cm high at the shoulder and weighing between 40 and 80kg. The rams are bigger than the ewes and only they carry the beautifully shaped horns.

The Black-faced Impala, a seperate subspecies (A.m.petersi), occurs in Northern Namibia.

Impalas occur in fairly dense woodland and bushveld, especially where acacias and mopane trees are dominant, and reach their highest population densities in riverine vegetation. They are mixed feeders, including large amounts of grass and browse in their diet, with considerable variation in the plants they feed on during the different seasons. They prefer to drink daily and access to a reliable water source is an important habitat factor for impala – they’re seldom further than 2 or 3km from water.

Outside the mating season, impalas occur in large, mixed herds of up to 300 animals. In the mating season, adult rams (between 4 and 8 years old) establish territories in which they herd harem groups of about 20 ewes and lambs that they defend vigorously from the attentions of any other males. During this time, males that cannot successfully demarcate a territory or hold on to their harems will band together in bachelor groups.

Impalas are most active in the early morning and afternoons, and sometimes into the night. During the heat of the day they rest up in thickets or shade near water, at night they sleep in open areas. Impala herds do not have large home ranges and they often associate with other herbivores, most notably zebras, giraffes, kudus, blue wildebeest and monkeys and baboons. They’re extremely athletic, capable of speeds in excess of 60km/h and leaps 3m high and 12m far.

In South Africa, the impala mating season falls in autumn, with most of the lambs arriving en masse in early summer. Ewes give birth to single lambs in thickets or long grass, to rejoin the herd with their lamb after two days. Almost all the lambs in a herd are born within a few days of each other, ensuring that there are more lambs than predators can handle. In the herd, the lambs group together in nurseries watched over by one or two ewes.

Impalas are a staple of many of Africa’s large predators, especially cheetah, leopard, wild dog and crocodiles. Lambs are also taken by eagles, pythons, jackals and baboons. Owing to their dependence on drinking water and reluctance to move over longer distances, impala suffer greatly during prolonged droughts. They have a life expectancy of between 8 and 15 years in the wild.

In South Africa, the common impala’s natural distribution stretches across the Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West Provinces, and they are frequently encountered in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, uMkhuze Game Reserve, Ithala Game Reserve, Tembe Elephant ParkKruger National Park, MapungubweMarakele and Pilanesberg National Parks. The IUCN considers the common impala’s conservation status to be secure, with a stable population estimated at about 2 million, half of which occurs on private land, often outside their natural distribution range, being a popular game ranching animal.

Impala (17)

Uniquely coloured impalas appear from time to time in natural populations, and on game ranches these are often purposefully bred.