Aepyceros melampus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CETARTIODACTYLA BOVIDAE

Scientific Name: Aepyceros melampus
Species Authority: (Lichtenstein, 1812)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Impala, Black-faced Impala
Taxonomic Notes: Two subspecies are generally recognized, supported by molecular data (Nersting and Arctander 2001; Lorenzen et al. 2006): the Common Impala (A. m. melampus) and the Black-faced Impala (A. m. petersi).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Mallon, D.P. (Antelope Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment)
Justification:
Listed as Least Concern as although Impala have been eliminated from some parts of their range (such as Burundi), they are still relatively widespread, common and abundant in numerous protected areas across their range. The population is estimated at almost 2 million, of which about 50% are on private land (stable or increasing) and 25% in protected areas (stable). The remaining 25% are stable or decreasing. 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. Most of the species' largest populations are stable or increasing.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Impala formerly occurred widely in southern and East Africa, from central and southern Kenya and north-east Uganda to northern KwaZulu-Natal, west to Namibia and southern Angola. 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 in press).

In Namibia, the Black-faced Impala is naturally confined to the Kaokoland in the north-west, and neighbouring south-western Angola. Kaokoland was set aside as a protected area in 1928, when it formed part of Etosha N.P., but lost its protection status in 1970. To guard against its extinction, Black-faced Impala were translocated to south-western Etosha on the edge of the historic Black-faced Impala range (Green and Rothstein 1998). Today, this subspecies occurs between the Otjimborombonga area (ca 12°45'E) and Swartbooisdrift on the Cunene R., southward to the Kaoko Otavi area in the south-western part of the Etosha N.P., and the Kamanjab District just south of the Park (Fritz and Bourgarel in press). There is no information on the current status of this subspecies in Angola (Crawford-Cabral and Veríssimo 2005)

Common Impala have been introduced to numerous privately owned game ranches and small reserves throughout southern Africa. Impala have also been introduced in two protected areas in Gabon (P. Chardonnet pers. comm.).
Countries:
Native:
Angola (Angola); Botswana; Kenya; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Rwanda; South Africa; Swaziland; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Regionally extinct:
Burundi
Introduced:
Gabon
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Population estimates are available for most of the Impala’s current range. East (1999) summed these estimates to produce a total population of 1,584,000 Common Impala and 2,200 Black-faced Impala, but the former 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 ~2 million.

East's estimate of 2,200 for Black-faced Impala is slightly lower than that estimated by Green and Rothstein (1998), who estimated numbers in Etosha at around 1,500 individuals, with an additional 1,200 on private land, and the total population in Kaokoland at around 500. As of 2007, numbers in Etosha and private ranches are estimated at about 3,200 with a further 50-100 on conservancies (all stable and increasing); numbers in the north-west (the original native range) may number approximately 1,000 (J. Jackson in litt to ASG 2007).

As noted by Fritz and Bourgarel (in press), actual recorded densities of Impala vary substantially, from less than 1/km² in Mkomazi National Park (Tanzania) to as many as 135/km² on the shores of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe (Bourgarel 1998). In the wooded savanna of Akagera N.P. in Rwanda, where Monfort (1972) recorded densities of 214/km², total numbers declined by about 75-80% between 1990 and 1998 (Williams and Ntayombya 1999).
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The 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 in press). In their semi-arid environment, Black-faced Impala also select the interface between wooded savanna and open grassy vleis (Joubert 1971; Matson et al. 2005).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are currently no major threats to the species. Poaching, livestock development and severe drought were the main factors contributing to the decline of Black-faced Impala. The reintroduction of 180 individuals from Kaokoland to the west of Etosha National Park between 1968 and 1971 helped promote the conservation of the subspecies, and a few were translocated from Etosha to private game farms in Namibia (Fritz and Bourgarel in press).

However, the introduction of Common Impala to ranches and conservancies neighbouring Etosha National Park may represent a threat to the Black-faced subspecies through hybridization. Green and Rothstein (1998) earlier estimated that about one-quarter of all privately owned Black-faced Impala occur in mixed herds with Common Impala. In a recent study, Lorenzen and Siegismund (2004) analysed 127 Black-faced Impala individuals from five subpopulations in Etosha National Park to determine whether any hybridization had taken place within the park, but could not find any evidence for hybridization between the two subspecies having taken place.

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.

The main surviving populations of the Black-faced Impala occur in Etosha National Park and private farms in Namibia. The numbers of the Black-faced Impala should continue to increase in protected areas and on private land, although it remains at risk from hybridization with the Common Impala (East 1999). The Namibian government has a management plan to eliminate hybridization with Common Impala and strictly regulate harvests. The Namibian Professional Hunters Association has a Black-faced Impala committee and the NGO Conservation Force has a long-term involvement in all aspects of its conservation including funding of the management plan. Good management practices make the future of the taxon secure for now (John J. Jackson III, in litt. to ASG, August 2007).

Bibliography [top]

Bourgarel, M. 1998. Aspects de la dynamique des populations d'impalas Aepyceros melampus sur les bords du Lac Kariba au Zimbabwe. M.Sc. thesis, Université Lyon - I.

Crawford-Cabral, J. and Verissimo, L. N. 2005. The Ungulate Fauna of Angola. Instituto de Investifacao Cientifica Tropical, Lisboa.

East, R. 1999. African Antelope Database 1999. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Fritz, H. and Bourgarel, M. In press. Aepyceros melampus. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Green, W. C. H. and Rothstein, A. 1998. Translocation, Hybridization, and the Endangered Black-Faced Impala. Conservation Biology 12(2): 475-480.

Joubert, E. 1971. Observations on the habitat preferences and population dynamics of the Black-faced Impala in South West Africa. Madoqua 1(3): 55-65.

Lorenzen, E. D. and Siegismund, H. R. 2004. No suggestion of hybridization between the vulnerable black-faced impala (Aepyceros melampus petersi) and the common impala (A. m. melampus) in Etosha National Park, Namibia. Molecular Ecology 13: 3007-3019.

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.

Matson, T. K., Goldizen, A. W. and Jarman, P. J. 2005. Microhabitat use by black-faced impala in the Etosha National Park, Namibia. Journal of Wildlife Management 69: 1708-1715.

Monfort, A. 1972. Densités, biomasses et structures des populations d'ongulés sauvages au Parc De L'akagera (Rwanda). Revue d'Écologie (La Terre et la Vie) 2: 216-257.

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

Williams, S. D. and Ntayombya, P. 1999. Akagera: An assessment of the biodiversity and conservation needs. Report of the Zoological Society of London – MINAGRI, London, UK.


Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group 2008. Aepyceros melampus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 August 2014.
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