Wildlife TV

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How do baby Impalas survive?

on June 22, 2013

Impala Lambs

Baby Impala (Aepycerus melampus)

Baby Impala.
Photo Credit

Impalas (Aepycerus melampus) are one of the most successful animals in the entire African continent. In fact, there are around 2 million impala in Africa and they have many reasons for this accomplishment, one of which we already discussed in this blog, their countershading. But camouflage is not the only reason why these African antelopes are far from extinction and today we will explore another reason for the success, their mating and reproductive strategies.

Just like many other mammals, impalas have a breeding season called the rut. It is during the rutting, that starts around April/May just at the end of the rainy season and lasts around 3 or 4 weeks, that males will fight for the opportunity to maintain a harem and mate with as many females as they can. During this time countless males face each other in strenuous battles for the right to conceive and pass on their genes but only a few will succeed.

You see, there will be so much activity, either fighting or mating, that within 2 weeks the vast majority of the female impala are already covered even though the males are still fighting amongst themselves.

After their gestation period of around 6 to 7 months, impala ewes will start giving birth to their young and because the majority of them got pregnant within 2 weeks of each other, they will also drop all their lambs within 2 weeks of each other.

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) with its kill, a baby Impala (Aepyceros melampus) prey

Cheetah with impala.
Photo Credit

So suddenly we’ll be able to see thousands and thousands of baby impalas all around the savannah. And we won’t be the only ones to see them, adult predators will also know exactly what’s coming. In fact, some predators are known to give birth around the same time as impalas because they will have assured meals to provide for themselves and their young.

During this time there will be so many impalas around that it will create a “crash in the market” effect. There will be too many for the predators to kill and consume thus ensuring the survival of at least half of the new impala population.

 

Impala (Aepyceros melampus) herd with females, juveniles and young baby lambs.

Impala herd.
Photo Credit

 

So the impala lambs’ survival technique unfortunately does not involve the survival of individual members of the group like in the case of the chacma baboons but they ensure that the species survives as a whole.

By giving birth to thousands and thousands of babies, all at the same time, this species makes sure that even if half the babies die, at least the other half will survive because by then predators have very very full bellies!

 

I hope you liked learning about the amazing world of baby impalas.
Do you want to find out how baby giraffes and other animals survive?
Check out our “Series” page for the list of “Baby Animals: How do they survive?

 

Até à próxima!
~Sofia.

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