Prey tell.

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In twilight's tender glow, a parade unfolds, Impalas grace the road, their tale untold. Hooves dance to the rhythm of dusk's sweet refrain, A serenade to the fading light, a fleeting domain. Yet shadows breed perils, unseen eyes that gleam, Night whispers secrets, a predator's silent scheme. Oh, gallant impalas, in the hush of twilight's breath, May you elude the fangs that hunger in the depth. Through moonlit realms, navigate with grace, Survive the lurking peril, embrace dawn's embrace. Oh, hoofed wanderers, may night's shadows disband, And at morn's first light, a resilient herd shall stand.

 

 

 

More often than not, trips in a game reserve are spent looking for apex predators with teeth and claws, announcing their presence with mighty vocalizations that can be heard up to 5km away.

But perhaps the return on investment for a pride of lions is too high and they would rather focus on the larger prey species.

 

 

 

 

So it then falls to the leopard to become the apex predator for this species as they are insular by nature and only have to look after themselves, in the case of the males and perhaps a litter of cubs in the case of the females.

 

 

 

But without the prey species, there would be no predators and so I dedicate this posting to what I consider to be the apex PREY species…the Impala.

The next time you come across a herd while on a drive or a walk, pay them the respect they deserve and do not make a judgment call and dismiss them out of hand.

 

 

 

Forget Superman and his perceived capability of being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Impala can leap distances of more than 10m from a standing start.

They use this ability to escape predators and sometimes simply to amuse themselves.

FYI: The women’s long jump record is held by Galina Chistyakova of the former Soviet Union who leapt 7.52 m. And that is with a run-up of around 30-40m and prey species like impala do not have that luxury.

 

 

 

In full flight…

Both the rams and ewes are capable of jumping distances that would put human athletes to shame. They have been known to clear obstacles by leaping more than 3m into the air.

A herd will break up into individuals who will run, leap and zig-zag away from a perceived source of danger.

The markings on their rump help the herd find each other after escaping a potentially dangerous situation.

Consider this… Javier Sotomayor (Cuba) is the current men’s world record holder for the high jump, clearing a height of. 2.45 m in 1993.

 

 

 

During lambing season, which is usually from the beginning of November to the end of December and often into January, there is such an abundance of youngsters that it is both a blessing and a curse for the herd.

It means that those lost to predators are not really ‘missed’ in the truest meaning of the word. But I would like to believe that there is some form of emotional bond that keeps the herd together and individuals that are lost to predators are ‘mourned’.

Here one of the youngsters takes a moment to suckle.

 

 

 

“If I ignore you, perhaps you will go away”?

Male impala spend their lives eating, procreating and fighting for dominance. Not every ram gets to mate and only the strongest will go on to have harems of their own where they can produce offspring to keep the gene pool strong.

Unfortunately, humans do not believe in natural selection and more is the pity. Our world might be better off if certain humans were NOT allowed to continue their lineage. (Perhaps that is what the Darwin Awards are for?)

On the other hand, rams who do not make the grade for whatever reason are not able to breed and they will often be the first to be taken by predators.

 

 

 

Impala are not carnivores or the ram licking his lips could be sizing up his opponent as a meal rather than potential competition.

People might believe that Impala do not pose a threat to humans, but I can attest to the fact that they can move and utilize the horns with the speed and accuracy of an Olympic fencer! And I still bear some of the scars from an encounter that I had several years ago, which gave me a whole new respect for the species.

 

 

 

These youngsters are play fighting. All part of growing up and trying to successfully form a breeding herd of their own.

During the actual rutting season, the bush is alive with the sounds of males calling and the clash of horns. The focus is on mating and as such, the rams lose condition and become easy prey for the resident predators. Lions, leopards and even hyenas tend to be on high alert during this time.

 

 

 

Ewes and youngsters make up this particular herd. The males are usually around the perimeter of the group keep an eye open for danger and alarm-calling should something be spotted.

Also, they tend to be protective of their females who are often ‘serviced’ by rogue males who will try to sneak in a herd that is not theirs and mate with the females belonging to the Alpha Impala.

 

 

 

Jump for joy… or trying to get away. In this particular instance, it was the former rather than the latter.

It is always of interest to me that Impala go about their daily business without seeming to worry that they might become a meal for any of the many animals that could be a threat to them. And EVERYTHING eats them. Baboons and raptors will take the young, while pythons and carnivores will gorge themselves on the adults. Yet they don’t seem to let that eventuality be of concern to them.

Consider how that would affect humans if we woke up every morning knowing that there is every possibility that we could be killed during the day. We would never leave our beds!

 

 

 

“Who are you and why are you looking at me”?

 

 

 

As the light fades over the plains, this species settles down for the hours of darkness that might well mean the end of a life for more than one.

I have developed a tradition of congratulating the first impala that I see on a morning game drive. It means that those I can see have made it through the night and will get to (hopefully) spend another day being an impala.

 

 

 

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