Impala antelope maintain a complicated social and mating system. Males are very territorial and dominant rams maintain breeding rights over a herd of females and immature males. However, the time and energy expended in seeing off challenges from subordinate males causes the male to lose condition rapidly. Therefore, rams of east African populations usually only stay dominant for 3-4 months before they are forced to join bachelor herds to regain their strength.
This photo was shot in Tarangire National Park, central Tanzania, and shows 2 rams sparring in the bed of a dried up river. One may be the dominant male with the other challenging to secure breeding rights over the herd. A distinctive ‘M’ pattern can be seen on the rump of one of the rams. This, the numerousness of impalas and the fact that they are ‘fast-food’ for many predators has led this antelope to be nicknamed the ‘McDonalds of the veldt’.