Bushveld beauties

Sabi Sand · May 2019
By Ross Couper
Field Guide, Content Provider

The grass towers over the shoulders of the impala herds at the moment. As the rutting season comes to an end, the last few large rams are making the most of the colder conditions and shorter days and continue to pursue the ewes for mating. Despite an abundance of impalas, witnessing mating is surprisingly unusual. I have only witnessed this on one occasion.

With the seasonal changes it is notable how the variety of food has changed. Nutritional options have been altered based on what has already dried out with the colder temperatures. Fortunately for impala it is one of the few species that can easily adapt to the conditions.

The specie is described as being a mixed feeder and this allows the antelope to thrive by being able to consume not only grass stalks in a grazing manner, but they can also feed on leaves through a feeding method known as browsing. This feeding adaptability makes them successful competitors for available resources.

Currently they are moving through the thickets during the morning and resorting to the moving back into the open clearings in the evening where most of their rest will take place. The uncanny sound of the impala males aggressively snarling, growling, roaring and snorting to establish their individual dominance resonates through the air at this time, with little respite.
With all this activity taking place, the noise from the males can often attract predators to the area. A clashing of horns is a key indicator that two males are fighting and often this sound is carried through the cool air in the evening or morning time. Predators in the area are easily attracted by this and often move into the area to investigate the opportunity of an easy source of prey.

Often impala are an overlooked species whilst on a game drive. Due to the large number of them it could be difficult to get anywhere if you decided to stop for every impala sighting. They can easily indicate where a predator may be moving and you can quickly move into the area and the herd would indicate the direction of where the predator may be found, or where it moved as they will often keep looking in that direction.

So the next time you are out on a game drive, make sure to take time to watch these incredible animals and you may be surprised by how much value they add to a game drive.

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