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Gazelle vs. Impala — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Maham Liaqat — Updated on March 27, 2024
Gazelles are known for their slender build and graceful movements, typically found in Africa and Asia, while impalas, a species native to eastern and southern Africa, are recognized for their unique lyre-shaped horns and remarkable jumping ability.
Gazelle vs. Impala — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Gazelle and Impala


Key Differences

Gazelles and impalas are both medium-sized antelopes renowned for their agility and speed, but they belong to different genera and have distinct physical and behavioral characteristics.In contrast, the impala (Aepyceros melampus) is found specifically in eastern and southern Africa, thriving in savannas and light woodlands. Impalas are notable for their reddish-brown coat and the males' impressive lyre-shaped horns, which can grow up to 90 cm in length.
Diet-wise, both gazelles and impalas are herbivores, grazing on a mixture of grasses and leaves. However, impalas are more adaptable in their diet, able to switch between grazing and browsing depending on the season, which gives them a competitive advantage in varying habitats. Gazelles, on the other hand, have diets that can vary significantly between species, with some species preferring predominantly grassy vegetation, while others are more inclined towards leaves and shoots, especially those species living in more arid regions.
Conservation status varies across the different species of gazelles, with some species being listed as endangered due to habitat loss, hunting, and predation. Impalas are currently listed as of Least Concern by the IUCN, although their populations are affected by similar threats. Their wider range and adaptability have helped maintain stable populations compared to some of the more vulnerable gazelle species.
While gazelles and impalas share some similarities as medium-sized, swift, and graceful antelopes, their differences in habitat preference, physical characteristics, social behavior, and diet highlight the diversity within the antelope family.

Comparison Chart


Africa and Asia, preferring arid and desert areas
Eastern and southern Africa, in savannas and woodlands

Physical Traits

Slender build, varies by species; some have ringed horns
Reddish-brown coat, males have lyre-shaped horns


High-speed runs, sudden changes in direction
Remarkable leaping ability, forms large herds


Grasses, leaves, shoots; varies significantly between species
Adaptable, grazes on grasses or browses on leaves


Varies, with some species endangered
Listed as of Least Concern but affected by habitat loss

Compare with Definitions


Varies widely across species.
The Dorcas gazelle is smaller and adapted to desert life.


Form large herds for protection.
Female impalas and their young live in large herds for safety from predators.


Social structures depend on species.
Some gazelle species form large herds, while others are more solitary.


Found in eastern and southern Africa.
Impalas are a common sight in the Serengeti's savannas.


Known for graceful movements.
Gazelles can often be seen leaping gracefully through the desert.


Capable of impressive jumps.
Impalas can leap over obstacles nearly 3 meters high.


Often targeted by predators.
Gazelles are a common prey for cheetahs due to their size and speed.


Adapt to their diet seasonally.
Impalas switch between grazing and browsing, depending on what's available.


A slender, fast antelope found in arid areas.
The Thomson's gazelle is renowned for its speed and agility.


A medium-sized antelope with distinctive horns.
Male impalas are easily recognized by their lyre-shaped horns.


A gazelle is any of many antelope species in the genus Gazella. This article also deals with the seven species included in two further genera, Eudorcas and Nanger, which were formerly considered subgenera of Gazella.


The impala (, Aepyceros melampus) is a medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. The sole member of the genus Aepyceros, it was first described to European audiences by German zoologist Hinrich Lichtenstein in 1812.


A small, slender antelope that typically has curved horns and a fawn-coloured coat with white underparts, found in open country in Africa and Asia.


A graceful antelope often seen in large herds in open woodland in southern and East Africa.


Any of various small, swift antelopes of the genus Gazella and related genera of Africa and Asia, characteristically having a slender neck and ringed horns.


A reddish-brown African antelope (Aepyceros melampus) that has long, curved horns in the male and is noted for its ability to leap.


An antelope of either of the genera Gazella (mostly native to Africa) or Procapra (native to Asia), capable of running at high speeds for long periods.


An African antelope, Aepyceros melampus, noted for its leaping ability; the male has ridged, curved horns.


One of several small, swift, elegantly formed species of antelope, of the genus Gazella, esp. G. dorcas; - called also algazel, corinne, korin, and kevel. The gazelles are celebrated for the luster and soft expression of their eyes.


An antelope (Aepyceros melampus) of Southeastern Africa, the male of which has ringed lyre-shaped horns, which curve first backward, then sideways, then upwards. ALso called impalla and pallah.


Small swift graceful antelope of Africa and Asia having lustrous eyes


African antelope with ridged curved horns; moves with enormous leaps

Common Curiosities

Can gazelles jump as high as impalas?

While gazelles are agile and can perform quick turns and sprints, impalas are specifically noted for their ability to make high and long jumps.

Are impalas endangered?

Impalas are classified as of Least Concern by the IUCN, though their populations face threats from habitat loss and hunting.

How do impalas differ from gazelles?

Impalas, specific to eastern and southern Africa, are known for their reddish-brown coat and males' distinctive lyre-shaped horns, as well as their ability to leap long distances.

Why are gazelles important to their ecosystem?

Gazelles play a crucial role in their ecosystems as grazers that help control vegetation and as prey for predators, maintaining ecological balance.

What is a gazelle?

A gazelle is a slender, fast antelope that typically inhabits arid and desert regions across Africa and Asia.

What threats do impalas face?

Impalas face threats from habitat loss, hunting, and predation, similar to many other wildlife species.

How can we help protect gazelles and impalas?

Protecting gazelles and impalas involves conserving their habitats, implementing anti-poaching measures, and supporting wildlife conservation initiatives.

What do gazelles eat?

Gazelles are herbivores, feeding on a mix of grasses, leaves, and shoots, with diet preferences varying significantly between species.

How do gazelles and impalas adapt to their environment?

Gazelles adapt to arid and desert environments with their dietary preferences and social structures, while impalas adapt through their flexible diet and social behavior to thrive in savannas and woodlands.

What are the social structures of gazelles and impalas?

Gazelles may form small herds or be solitary, varying by species, whereas impalas form large mixed-gender herds, with males establishing territories during breeding seasons.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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