Antelope families & more in the Serengeti

Antelope families & more in the Serengeti

Nothing is as sweet or serene as the face of the antelopes that live in the Serengeti. There are 16 different kinds of antelopes here, but one of my favorites are the impalas. We found these gentle and beautiful creatures, often found in herds, sometimes thirty, sometimes more than a hundred, all sporting beautiful soft reddish brown coats with big brown eyes.

Antelope Breeding herd

The males are easily recognized by their beautiful twisting lyre-shaped ringed horns.

Male head of the breeding herd

Why is it that the herd consisted almost solely of females and only one male in the bunch?! Apparently, there are hierarchies and definite rankings with the antelope world.

Delicate features of the female impalas

The breeding herd is headed by a lone male who’s job it is to keep the herd together, lead them to food and water, and mate with all the females. Can you imagine? I get tired just thinking about that!! The females tend to all the babies. As the young males start to mature, they become a threat to the male head of the herd and they are slowly ousted. This little young male with the tiny horns is being edged to the outer rim of the herd.

At eight months, the young male must leave the comfort of the herd and find others like himself, who have been ousted. They form a bachelor group of males. As they grow, mature, and become strong, they may then go and challenge a male head of a breeding herd.

Bachelor Herd

With the constant challenges and stress put on the male heads, most breeding herd leaders only last about three months. When a challenging male wins the battle, he wins the entire breeding herd and becomes the lead male with all the females going with him. Wow, it’s rough going and very competitive in the impala world!

Impala Breeding Group

These similar family dynamics happen also with the lions, elephants, cape buffaloes, deer, and antelopes. As the older males get tired of the game, they eventually leave the herd and become retired, forming senior groups in the Serengeti, preferring to be alone or in small groups.

A lone senior

We don’t know where these cape buffalos are going, but they snuck up on us very quietly. There were more than 600 of them, stirring up a lot of dust, but moving very gently through the grass. I love the lone one that joins the herd, with the birds flying off his back as he’s galloping to join in.

Cape buffalos and zebras

Following close behind were a herd of zebra. I’m not sure what the family dynamics were here, but there sure were a lot of them. As quietly as they appeared, they soon vanished into the distance, hidden by the Serengeti savannah.

A playful senior

It’s been another amazing and fascinating day in the Serengeti. You just never know what you’re going to see.

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Monie Thompson