Archive for Did you know?
See our factsheet below for more information about the purple-crested Turaco (formerly known as the purple-crested Lourie).
Nyala is a Swahili name, from the Zulu ‘Inyala’.
Like most antelope Nyala are shy creatures and aren’t very comfortable in open-spaces. They tend to only venture into the public eye as they drink at waterholes. Usually exclusively browsers, the Nyala feed mostly on fruits, pods, twigs and leaves.
Like a growing number of people, Nyala prefer their own company – although they can be found in family groups of around 10 people.
It is easy to distinguish between adult males and females. Females tend to be slightly smaller than the males at around 90cm and do not have horns. Like their young, the females are a reddish brown (almost copper) colour with the white vertical lines on their backs.
Standing at 110cm the males have shaggy dark brown fur with a white line under their eyes and white patches on their chest and belly. Like humans male Nyala grey with age. They have loosely spiralled horns (approx 21 to 33 inches long with yellow tips) and a long fringe on their throat and underbelly – which does make them look a little scruffy. Like the females the males also have white vertical markings on their backs which look as though paint has been dribbled over them.
Nyala have a different dominance display to impala. Generally docile they rarely fight aggressively, with back mane fully erect they circle each other slowly whilst using their horns against objects or even the ground in an attempt to intimidate. The erect hair on back and fringe helps the bull to appear larger, aiding in his intimidation.
Nyala breed at any time of the year with their peak seasons being Spring and Autumn. After a gestation period of 8-9 months The newborn lambs are hidden for the first 3 weeks with the mother returning only to feed and relocate them. When the lamb has got used to its legs and is able to keep up with the rest of the group it joins the herd.
Females mature at 11 to 12 months and males at 18 months (although males are not socially mature until around 5 years of age).
Impala comes from the Zulu word meaning Gazelle.
There are thought to be approximately two million impala across Africa. Their abundance is attributed to their extraordinary skills of adaptation. Unlike most ungulates Impala have developed the ability to become either grazers or browsers dependent on the availability of food and they also have an amazing ability to survive without drinking for weeks as long as they have access to green vegetation.
Thanks to this resilience they are classed as animals of least concern on the IUCN Redlist.
Impalas are a healthy fast-food for Leopards, Cheetahs, Lions and Wild Dogs. Low in fat, but oh so tasty!
Hate having to share a room with your brothers and sisters? Be glad you’re not an Impala, they can form herds of up to two hundred!! Fed up with your brother? In impala herds boys can sometimes be kicked out after they have been weaned. This results in gangs of bachelor Impala roaming the savannah.
When food is plentiful adult males will establish territories – either by use of scent glands on their faces or by building dung heaps – watch where you stand!
Female impala can pass through the territories whilst looking for the best food, however bachelor impala must stay in their own territories. The territories with the best food and water supplies will encourage more female impala meaning that the male is more likely to contribute his DNA to the gene pool. It can get lonely defending your territory and chasing all the other males away, so quite often the male impala will try to prevent the female impalas from leaving – quite often this is done by faking danger just outside of the territory boundary to trick the female impala into staying.
When food is scarce however territories are abandoned as the herds must move to find water and food.
Rutting (the breeding season) occurs in May at the end of the wet season. Rams have horns which can reach up to 90cm in length which are used during rutting to establish control over other males.
Usually rutting lasts only three weeks with the young born after 6-7 months. However Impala females are very clever and have the ability to delay the birth for another month if the conditions are harsh. Like humans, female impalas like their privacy when giving birth and will separate themselves form the herd. The mother will then stay with the fawn in a safe spot or even leave it in hiding for a few days or even weeks before returning to the herd. When in the herd the fawn will join the nursery group and only go to its mother to feed or to hide from predators. Fawns are suckled for four to six months.
Run, run as fast as you can…
Impala have a really cool way of confusing predators. Imagine this, you’re a poor hungry Lioness and you’ve managed to sneak up on a herd of Impala when all of a sudden just as you’re standing within pouncing distance of the herd the wind changes and they smell you. Annoying hey? Then imagine that all of a sudden two hundred impala start jumping around you. Impala can jump distances of up to 10 metres and can jump approximately 3 metres high and they’re quick. So, just as soon as you single one impala out of the blur of colour that now surrounds you, it’s gone. You try again, following this one as it circles you, but no, gone again.
You’re pretty dizzy by this point when all of a sudden the impala all run. They can run at speeds of 80-90kmh (50-56mph) and they can change direction so quickly that if you blink you won’t know where they have gone. Impalas couple this amazing speed with the ability to be able to run quietly through the bush, most of us humans can’t manage 3 steps before we inevitably stand on a branch, but the impala with their tiny feet and nimble legs make it looks easy.
To stop them getting lost during these quick runs, impala have scent glands on their heels and as they are run they perform high kicks with their hind legs which releases a scent to help them stay together.