On one of my recent trips to the Athi Kapiti (Also known as Athi Kaputiei) plains, Kenya, I came across a sight that few have been lucky to witness. A minutes-old Impala fawn.
Well camouflaged, yet so graceful
This little guy was conceived some 194-200 days after a rut (mating season). At birth, it should average 5 Kgs. It should be hidden for about 24-48 hours. The mother will keep returning to the fawn to suckle until it is fit enough to join her on feeding ventures. After this, it will live for an average 12-15 years, if it is not taken from the world sooner by predators or disease. During the first few weeks, the fawn is at utmost danger of predation and has only about 50% chances of survival.
When young, it depends on camouflage and low odour to stay alive. Once it is fully grown, it will depend on its legs for survival or add its horns to the arsenal, if it is a male.
The Impala (Aepyceros melampus) is a graceful antelope of the African savannah. There are two sub-species: the Black-faced Impala (Aepyceros melampus petersi) and the Common Impala (Aepyceros melampus melampus). Kenya’s individuals are Common Impalas.
It is one of the famous high jumpers of the savannah, making some of the best aerial leaps. Record leaps are known to reach 3 metres high and 12 metres long. The leaps are occasionally used to spray a scent through the fetlock gland of the hind limbs, which may be used during herd scattering escapes.
Heading back to the secret place
Young Impala will usually live with females in small herds which are often led by dominant males, especially during the rut season. Younger and weaker males, with no territorial herds to lead, will live alone or in bachelor herds. But being a territorial male has some negative implications:- for one, you will have to fight off many rivals to keep your territory. Secondly, you will be too busy maintaining your herd, that you miss social grooming time and thus may host a considerable number of ticks on your coat.
I wish this new member of “Team Wildlife” a happy and prosperous future. I hope it gets to be a superb high-jumping adult someday.
Adult male feeding