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 has been working for over 33 years as a crew member/flight attendant and enjoys the well-ventilated air of the outdoors. The nom de blog, Redgannet, was adopted to add an air of mystery and to make himself more attractive to women. His father first whetted Redguga's appetite for all things natural by buying him his first pair of 7x35s and a copy of Thorburn's Birds. Having no mentor beyond an indulgent parent, he spent the first season hoping for an Egyptian Vulture at the bird table in his English garden. His most memorable birding moment is seeing an Egyptian Vulture with those same binoculars 26 years later. Redgannet is married to Canon, but his heart and half of his house belongs to Helen and their son Joseph. He is looking forward to communicating with people who don't ask if he is searching for the "feathered variety" of bird.