The Impala is an slim, elegant antelope which is seen over most of sub-Saharan Africa, wherever there are a few Acacia bushes or some grass. Young males are turned out of the maternal herds once they reach an age at which they begin to compete with the dominant male. They form bachelor herds where they test their strength against their peers, finding their natural place in the hierarchy.

JNB 13Dec14 Impala 01

A pair of young bloods were pushing each other back and forth near the visitor centre at Pilanesberg recently. despite it being a pulled punch fight, the lunges and strikes could still do a lot of damage if not parried.

JNB 13Dec14 Impala 05

The fight is necessarily ritualised. The purpose is to test each other, not to receive or cause injury. Each buck stands side on to his antagonist, showing off his size and his horns whilst assessing the size and fitness of his opponent. They partly lock horns before engaging properly and pushing. As the rules dictate, they break off regularly to ensure that predators do not get the chance to creep up on them while they are otherwise occupied.

JNB 13Dec14 Impala 02

The horns of these young males will grow and continue to spiral until they attain the impressive headgear of a dominant male.

JNB 14Jun09 Impala 01

Other 10,000 Birds posts from Pilanesberg include Red-billed Oxpeckers on Rhinos, Diderik Cuckoos, a New Year’s toast and a morning at the hide overlooking Mankwe Dam


Written by Redgannet
Redgannet worked for more than 35 years as a flight attendant for an international airline. He came to birding late in his career but, considering the distractions, doesn't regret the missed opportunities. He was paid to visit six continents and took full advantage of the chance to bird the world. He adopted the nom de blog, Redgannet, to avoid remonstrations from his overbearing employer, but secretly hoped that the air of mystery would make him more attractive to women. Now grounded, he is looking forward to seeing the seasons turn from a fixed point.