Gamevest started of with a few Black Impala projects and after its 10th project with Black Impala rams on normal, split and black ewes, Saddleback Impala was introduced next. With an acquisition of a saddleback ram and 2 saddleback ewes from Lumari Game Breeders, together with a large group of split and black ewes, and a group of 6 x split Black ewes from Johan Van Der Merwe, Gamevest is proud to say that it can offer both Black and Saddleback Impala.

Known as: Impala (Black Impala)
Latin: Aepyceros melampus
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetartiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Genus: Aepyceros
Size: Head-body length: 0.7 m Height: 0.8 m
Weight: 40 – 60 kg


Southern & East African impala = Low Risk, conservation dependent (LR/cd). Black-faced impala = Vulnerable (VU).


A medium-sized, lightly built antelope. The coat of a normal Impala is shiny, uniform chestnut brown on the back and around the neck, passing through to a light fawn on the flanks and outer leg surfaces, whereas the black Impala is prominently black all-round with darker black stripes in the areas where normal Impala show stripes. The belly and the inside of the legs are white on normal Impala but black on black Impala. There is a prominent vertical black stripe down the centre of each buttock and on the dorsal surface of the tail. Black-faced impala are darker coloured, being a dull purple brown with a distinctive purplish-black blaze stretching down the middle of the face. East African impala are a brighter tawny red and are more sharply edged along the flanks. Saddleback Impala are commonly the normal red Impala with a black saddle on its back and black colouring around the face and on the legs. The saddle is distinctly visible and not just a dark tawny red Impala.

Comparison To Man



Lyrate-shaped, over 50 cm long and coarsely grooved for 75% of the length. The number of grooves relates to the animal’s age. Well developed horns in rams but ewes with inferior, rudimentary, deformed horns occasionally occur. Rowland Ward trophy status is reached after five years. Black-faced impala have smaller horns whereas those of the East African impala are longer with a distinctive greater tip-to-tip spread.


The common impala has a wide distribution, from South Africa to Kenya, Namibia to Mozambique. The black-faced impala occurs in a small isolated population in north-western Namibia and south-western Angola. Black and Saddleback Impala are being bred in breeding camps in most provinces of South Africa by various game breeders. Limpopo and Mpumalanga remains the area with the largest counts in these colour variants.


Bushveld, savannah, open woodland, mainly on alluvial and volcanic clay soils with an annual mean rainfall of 400 to 700 mm. Habitats with a diverse tree and shrub composition are favoured. Rocky outcrops, mountain slopes, open grasslands, marshlands, arid environments, riverine thickets and forests are avoided. Ecotones on the perimeter of riverine thickets and closed woodland are popular. The southern impala benefits from general increases in woodyfication due to global warming, and from overgrazing that increases the number of annual forbs in most woodland vegetation types. Black-faced impala prefer a denser habitat such as the riverine thickets bordering woodland vegetation.

Feeding & Nutrition

Mixed, concentrate feeder and a ruminant, of both browse and short (less than 8 cm), sweet grass. Highly selective in choice of both plant species and plant parts. A low crude-fibre diet of less than 40% is required, together with high protein content of 8% in winter and 16% in summer. During moist conditions grass forms 79-92% of the diet, together with herbs, dicot forbes and little woody browse. In dry winter the lignin content of grass increases and the diet changes to 32-67% woody browse. Fallen pods are an important source of stored protein during the dry winter months.

Social structure

Impala are social, gregarious animals that stay in groups of 6-30 in a moist summer but congregate in larger herds of 400 or more in the dry winter months following the mating season.

  • Family/breeding herds with several ewes of all ages, lambs, sub-adult rams and a few adult non-territorial rams
  • Bachelor herds that form during the rut between January and April and consist of sexually mature, but socially immature rams
  • Temporary nursing groups of youngsters that form on the outskirts of the family herds and are accompanied by 1-2 adult ewes
  • Herds of post-mature rams of 2-4 years that are mostly of trophy quality


The common impala is not yet considered to be threatened; however, the black-faced impala has been assessed as vulnerable to extinction. In Angola, the black-faced impala is thought to be nearly extinct, and in Namibia, the population has been decimated by drought and increased hunting pressure during periods of war. To guard against its extinction in this region, 310 individuals were moved to Etosha National Park in 1968-1971, where the population has steadily grown to over 1,500. Naturally occurring populations in Namibia outside this protected area remain fragmented and threatened by poaching and competition with livestock, and presently (2007) number less than 500 individuals.

Black-faced impala from Etosha National Park were subsequently moved to private farms in northern Namibia. Whilst well intended, the movement of black-faced impala to many farms which also hold common impala, has resulted in the potentially serious threat of interbreeding. Although there is no direct evidence of this yet, it is widely believed to occur on farms with mixed herds. Interbreeding between subspecies also poses a potential threat to the black-faced impala of Etosha National Park, due to the purchase of common impala by neighbouring farms. Fortunately, there is as yet no evidence of interbreeding within the park.

Ironically, the listing of the black-faced impala as Endangered by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1980 has exacerbated the problem of interbreeding. American trophy hunters do not hunt the black-faced impala because they are not permitted to import the trophies into the United States. Without the incentive of the high-spending American market, few Namibian farmers are willing to pay high prices for black-faced impala when they can buy common impala cheaply. Interviews with Namibian farmers indicate that the lack of American hunting revenues provides no incentive for farmers to prevent interbreeding between the black-faced and common impala.


The translocation of the black-faced impala to Etosha National Park has successfully created a population that is less threatened by poaching and competition, than those outside the park. However, care should be taken to ensure that the Etosha population does not come into contact with common impala, which could threaten their persistence due to interbreeding. This highlights the need for conservation of black-faced impala populations in areas removed from farms containing common impala. Solving the problem of interbreeding in private farm populations requires cooperation between governments and private land owners. Political action may be required, as permitting the import of black-faced impala trophies to the United States would create an economic incentive for farmers to maintain pure black-faced impala populations. Raising awareness in farmers of the uniqueness and rarity of the black-faced impala would also aid conservation efforts.

Credit to
Credit to

View our animal image gallery!