Aepyceros melampus ssp. melampus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Aepyceros melampus ssp. melampus (Lichtenstein, 1812)
Parent Species:
Common Name(s):
English Common Impala
Taxonomic Notes: Common Impala (A. m. melampus) is one of two subspecies of Impala (Aepyceros melampus), supported by molecular data (Nersting and Arctander 2001; Lorenzen et al. 2006). The other being the Black-faced Impala (A. m. petersi).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-07-26
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Hoffmann, M.
Listed as Least Concern as although Common Impala (sensu stricto) have been eliminated from some parts of their range (such as Burundi), they are still widespread, common and abundant in numerous protected areas across their range. Its future is secure as long as it continues to occur in large, adequately protected and managed populations in protected areas and private farms and conservancies. Population trends of the Common Impala are generally stable in protected areas, stable or increasing on private land and stable or decreasing elsewhere.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Common Impala formerly occurred widely in southern and East Africa: from central and southern Kenya and north-east Uganda to northern KwaZulu-Natal. Their current distribution range remains largely unchanged from their historical range, although it has been eliminated from parts by hunting for meat and the spread of settlement; for example, they now only occur in south-west Uganda, and have been extirpated from Burundi (East 1999, Fritz and Bourgarel 2013). They have been introduced to numerous privately owned game ranches and small reserves throughout southern Africa.

For the distribution map see parent species assessment: Aepyceros melampus.
Countries occurrence:
Angola; Botswana; Kenya; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Rwanda; South Africa; Swaziland; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Regionally extinct:
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):1700
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Population estimates are available for most of the Common Impala’s current range. East (1999) summed these estimates to produce a estimate of 1,584,000, however this does not allow for undercounting in aerial surveys or those areas for which population estimates are unavailable. Correcting for undercounting biases, East (1999) estimated the total numbers of Common Impala at ca 2 million.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Common Impala is a water-dependent and typical ecotone species, associated with light woodlands and savannas, selecting open Acacia savannas with nutrient-rich soils providing good-quality grass, and high-quality browse in the dry season (Fritz and Bourgarel 2013). Common Impala are absent from montane ecosystems, recorded to about 1,700 m on the slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro (Grimshaw et al. 1995).
Generation Length (years):5.7

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Common Impala are subject to consumptive use including trophy hunting, local use and harvesting for export. Common Impala are the most common antelope taken on hunting safaris in South Africa and are the second most numerous species harvested for use as biltong (after Springbok Antidorcas marsupialis; Van der Merwe and Saayman 2005). Owing to its high rate of reproduction and great adaptability, the Common Impala has also become of prime interest for meat production (e.g, Fairall 1983,Bothma 1989), not only on wildlife ranches but also in remote communal areas (e.g., Feron et al. 1998; Averbeck 2001, 2002; Bourgarel et al. 2001). In 2004, Impala meat constituted the eighth highest weight of commercially produced game meat that was exported from South Africa (Patterson and Khosa 2005).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threat to Common Impala seems to be active hunting at the edge of, and within, protected areas (with strong influence on densities as well as population structure) combined with agro-pastoral development (Setsaasa et al. 2007, Averbeck et al. 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Common Impala is one of the most abundant antelopes in Africa, with about one-quarter of the population occurring in protected areas. The largest numbers occurring in areas such as the Mara and Kajiado (Kenya), Serengeti, Ruaha and Selous (Tanzania), Luangwa Valley (Zambia), Okavango (Botswana), Hwange, Sebungwe and the Zambezi Valley (Zimbabwe), Kruger (South Africa) and on private farms and conservancies (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia) (East 1999). Its future is secure as long as it continues to occur in large, adequately protected and managed populations in protected areas and private farms and conservancies.

Classifications [top]

2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Marginal season:resident 
4. Grassland -> 4.5. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Percentage of population protected by PAs (0-100):21-30
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.3. Agro-industry grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.2. Harvest level trends

Bibliography [top]

Averbeck, C. 2001. Integrating rural communities, antelopes and buffalo conservation in the Lake Mburo Area. Gnusletter 20(1): 24-25.

Averbeck, C. 2002. Population ecology of impala and community-based wildlife conservation in Uganda. PhD thesis, Tecnische Universität, München, Germany.

Averbeck, C., Apio, A., Plath, M. and Wronski, T. 2009. Hunting differentially affects mixed-sex and bachelor-herds in a gregarious ungulate, the Impala (Aepyceros melampus: Bovidae). African Journal of Ecology 48: 255-264.

Bothma, J. du P. 1989. Game Ranch Management. J. du P. Bothma, Pretoria.

Bourgarel, M., des Clers, B., Roques-Rogery, D., Matabilila, J. and Banda, M. 2001. Sustainable use of game population in a Zimbabwean Communal Area: production of cheap edible meat for local communities. In: H. Ebedes, B. Reilly, W. Van Hoven and B. Penzhorn (eds), Fifth International Game Ranching Symposium, pp. 199-206. University of Pretoria, South Africa.

East, R. (compiler). 1999. African Antelope Database 1998. IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Fairall, N. 1983. Production parameters of the Impala, Aepyceros melampus. South African Journal of Animal Science 13: 176-179.

Feron, E., Tafira, J. K., Belemsobgo, U., Blomme, S. and de Garine-Wichatitsky, M. 1998. Transforming wild African herbivores into edible meat for local communities. A community owned mechanism for the sustainable use of Impala (Aepyceros melampus) in the Campfire Programme, Zimbabwe. Revue d'Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux 51: 265-272.

Fritz, H. and Bourgarel, M. 2013. Aepyceros melampus Impala. In: J. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa. VI. Pigs, Hippopoyamuses, Chevrotain, Giraffes, Deer, and Bovids, pp. 480-487. Bloomsbury Publishing, London, UK.

Grimshaw, J. M., Cordeiro, N. J. and Foley, C. A. H. 1995. The mammals of Kilimanjaro. Journal of the East Africa Natural History Society 84: 105-139.

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-2. Available at: (Accessed: 14 September 2017).

Lorenzen, E.D., Arctander, P. and Siegismund, H.R. 2006. Regional genetic structuring and evolutionary history of the impala Aepyceros melampus. Journal of Heredity 97: 119–132.

Nersting L.G. and Arctander, P. 2001. Phylogeography and conservation of impala and greater kudu. Molecular Ecology 10: 711-719.

Patterson, C. and Khosa, P. 2005. Background research paper: A status quo study on the professional and recreational hunting industry in South Africa. Trade Record Analysis for Fauna and Flora in Commerce, Pretoria, South Africa.

Setsaasa, T. H., Holmerna, T., Mwakalebeb, G., Stokkec, S. and Røskaft, E. 2007. How does human exploitation affect impala populations in protected and partially protected areas? - A case study from the Serengeti Ecosystem, Tanzania. Biological Conservation 136: 563-570.

Van der Merwe, P. and Saayman, M. 2003. Determining the economic value of game farm tourism. Koedoe 46(2): 103-112.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2017. Aepyceros melampus ssp. melampus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T136944A50198224. . Downloaded on 23 June 2018.
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