On the 26th of November we came across our first impala lamb of the season, although this was late compared to other years when we normally see them around the 19th. The rain has been little and late this year and when we see few impalas born at this time we predict we’ll have a poor rainy season. 2019 is showing us some drought because there are not a great number of impala lambs about and the females look relatively thin due to a lack of grass and other flora at this time.
These common antelope carry their young for about seven months and give birth during the beginning of the rainy season as there is food and cover for the little ones. It’s very fascinating to see the females leaving the herd to go and give birth in well-hidden areas away from enemies. The young are born precocial (born in an advanced state) as they have good eyesight and are ready to stand and follow the mother shortly after birth.
Later on the adorable little ones join nursery groups, like kindergarten. Juveniles rest, groom, move and play with one another only seeking their mothers to nurse or for protection. Weaning is complete as early as four or five months and by then the little males have small exposed horns.
During this time of year the adult female mortality is high as pregnant females fall prey to predators because of the extra weight they are carrying, and they cannot out run their enemies as swiftly.
It’s always a pleasure to view these beautiful creatures but I’m always reminded that as we humans say “goodnight” when we go to bed, impalas probably say “goodbye” as they are on the wanted list by many predators and might not see each other the next morning. That said, a great many do make it into adulthood, making them the most abundant antelope we see here.