Impala social behaviour: birth behaviour


  • M. V. JARMAN

    1. Serengeti Research Institute, P.O. Seronera, via Arusha, Tanzania
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    • *c/o School of Natural Resources, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales 2351, Australia.


Data collected from observations of eighteen parturient impala females are presented. Females attempt to isolate from the breeding herds 2 to 3 h before parturition. They have a characteristic appearance and behaviour at this stage and are having obvious labour contractions. Nearly all the females sought some cover and a vegetation type including many bushes was used frequently as a birth site. Only four of eleven females left the herd and found cover without harassment by either the territorial male or bachelor males. Many were also followed by impala females. The birth process is described; final expulsion of the foetus occurs in a recumbent position. All birth fluids and membranes are eaten by the mother. Much attention is paid to cleaning up the birth site, baby and herself. Time from birth to expulsion of the placenta is variable and the placenta is normally eaten as soon as it is expelled. Impalas can stand at about 15 min after birth and attempt to suckle soon after this. Only some mothers help the baby to find the udder. Unsteady running occurred at about 25 min after birth. Impalas have a preference for giving birth between 10·00 and 14·00 hours. The significance of this behaviour and the other behaviours shown as anti-predator devices are discussed. Individual differences in behaviour and early care of the young are noted.