Impala                                                  

Rooibok

Aepyceros melampus

Once upon a time, long, long ago, I coined a riddle. It goes with late night, mellow, campfire talk, and it goes like this:

Question: "What is the most beautiful of all mammals?"

Answer: "Wellll, …. (thinking….) I would say "…(followed by random listing of everything that moves, frequently ridiculous answers such as "elephant" (I cannot imagine an elephant’s hind quarters being beautiful!)

Hint: "Supposedly you were temporarily given the powers of creation, and you are tasked with a design review on the impala ram. How would you improve on it? By changing what?"

Correct answer: "I can’t improve on it."

Conclusion: Of course the impala ram is perfect. There is simply nothing on it that should have been longer, wider, whiter, thicker…..It is simply the most magnificent of animals. Unfortunately the impala is not appreciated as such, because they are the most common of antelope in SA. (Kruger Park census of 1985 was 140 000.)

Of course this is just my personal opinion, and beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. But I have found that most conservationists who think it over objectively would agree with that statement. The impala ram, with its lean, athletic appearance, has such elegance, grace, explosive power and balance, that to me it epitomizes "wild life". (Wishing I were a writer to say this better!)

Typical carcass weights of ram and ewe are 35kg and 25 kg respectively. Good venison and excellent biltong. Hide makes lovely floor mat.

Hunting

During the "rut" in April/May their territorial roar is so typical of the savanna woodland! The rams are so occupied with herding ewes into their territories and fighting off other rams, that they hardly notice the hunter. I have experienced an irrational "unprovoked charge" (!) from a ram under these emotional conditions. It can be argued that they should not be hunted during the peak of the mating season. Whatever time or type of hunting method, impala always makes it worth your while with its incredible sense of hearing. In a herd of impala there will always be at least one that is not gazing, but scanning for danger. Following them downwind is a waste of time.

Favorite also with hand gun and bow hunters.

Frequenting found on "open" cattle farms which provide for their habitat.

Considering the fee for impala and the effort required hunting it, it competes for first place on the menu of the econo hunter. Let me quantify this statement: Hunting 40 impala rams at R500 each will cost the same as taking one Buffalo for R20 000.

Did you know?

Impala is the only antelope that has a tuft of black hair above the hoof. When fleeing from danger, this gland leaves a trail of scent to others behind them.

In the Kruger Park impala provide 30% of lion kills and 75% of wild dog kills.

According to Smither’s the reason for its incisor teeth being loose in their sockets, is so that they can be used to comb ticks out of the coat. Impala is the antelope that grooms most. Reciprocal grooming amongst herd members is common. They are also the only species of small and medium antelope that will be groomed by ox peckers.