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IMPALA, THE ANIMAL

Impala

Liwonde Game Park, Malawi … This story is about an animal, not a car! However, one will find it interesting to know that in 1956 General Motors named what would become one of its most popular cars after this fast-moving antelope. The car carried the image of an impala as its logo.  

Impalas are medium-sized members of the antelope family that roam the savanna of eastern and southern Africa. They are plentiful in the national parks of Malawi and can astonish visitors with their ability to leap distances of as much as 33 feet. This is usually done when they are fleeing from a predator. They travel in groups, known as herds, and are ever alert to danger. At the first sign of a predator, often a lion, an alert impala barks a warning. The entire herd runs away at full speed, often in a zig-zag pattern, and often leaping over bushes and other obstacles by soaring into the air by as much as 10 feet. At times the young ones can also be seen leaping high in the air as they playfully seem to complete with each other for height and distance. Impala have been clocked at speeds as high as 50 mph (80 km).

Impalas are brown in color and appear much like the deer of North America. They are also recognized by their long, spiral horns, which males use to challenge any intruder. Males also use their horns to threaten other males during the mating season. During this time, they define a particular territory and herd females away from the others as a jealous guardian. Females give birth in seven months, with mother and baby joining the rest of the herd in just a few days. Typically, an impala will stand 33 to 39 inches (84 to 99 centimeters) tall at the shoulder and weigh 88 to 168 pounds (40 to 76 kg). The impala has four separate stomach chambers, which means it is an expert at extracting nutrients from their food.

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