NAIROBI PARK DIARY

The red buck

The name comes from their deep rusty red appearance

In Summary

• They were so-named by the early Dutch settlers 

Jump for joy
Jump for joy
Image: GARETH JONES

One fine afternoon, I drove in the area of the Kingfisher picnic site, looking over the valley below at the splendour before me. The park is looking like a beautiful garden after the good rains with lush green grasses and many wildflowers, but many of the plains species have already moved south onto the Kitengela plains, and even further on their annual migration, it is small miracle that somehow still happens every year even with the huge obstacles outside the protected area.

Then suddenly right next to the road I saw a fine herd of Impala, their rusty red colours shone in the afternoon sun. A dominant male chased a few possible contenders away, while other males stood guarding the rest of the herd, as tiny ‘bambi-like’ lambs suckled on their mothers. A truly wonderful scene to absorb, as just a few hundred metres away two large male lions sat watching ‘their’ kingdom.

 Impala are found over a large area covering Southern and Eastern Africa. The first attested English name, in 1802, was palla or pallah, from the Tswana phala 'red antelope', the name impala, also spelled impalla or mpala, is first attested in 1875. Its Afrikaans name, rooibok 'red buck', is a name given by the early Dutch settlers due to their deep rusty red appearance. Even the city of Kampala is named after the Impala from the phrase in luganda “ka-mpala” meaning (place of the Impala). They are commonly preyed upon by leopard, cheetah and at times lion.

Impala are antelopes and they are very agile and fast. They can jump up to 3 metres, over vegetation and even other impala, covering distances of up to 10 metres. They can also leap in different directions, probably to confuse predators. Next time when visiting the park it is worth sitting next to a herd and just watching events happen at nature's pace.

For more information on the park link to the following website  www.kws.go.ke