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Impala vs. Antelope — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Fiza Rafique — Updated on May 2, 2024
Impalas are a specific species of medium-sized antelope known for their agility and long, spiraled horns, whereas "antelope" refers to many species within the Bovidae family, varying widely in size, shape, and habitat.
Impala vs. Antelope — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Impala and Antelope


Key Differences

Impalas are a distinct species, Aepyceros melampus, recognized for their reddish-brown bodies and striking, lyre-shaped horns, found primarily in eastern and southern Africa. In contrast, the term "antelope" encompasses numerous species spread across various continents, from the tiny royal antelope to the large eland.
Impalas are known for their remarkable ability to leap, reaching heights of up to 3 meters and distances of up to 10 meters. This agility aids in evading predators. Whereas, antelopes, as a group, exhibit a wide range of adaptations to their environments, with some, like the pronghorn of North America, known for their speed, and others adapted more for stealth and camouflage than for spectacular leaping.
The habitat of impalas is typically savanna and light woodlands where they graze on grasses, herbs, bushes, and shrubs. On the other hand, antelopes are found in a variety of habitats, from dense forests to arid deserts, each species adapted to its specific environment with varying diets and behaviors.
Social structures also vary significantly within the antelope category; impalas are known for their flexible social systems, forming herds that can range from a few individuals to several hundred during the rainy season. Other antelopes may lead solitary lives, form small family groups, or gather in massive herds, depending on the species and environmental conditions.
In terms of conservation, impalas are classified as one of the more populous antelope species with stable populations, thanks to their adaptability to both natural and human-altered environments. Conversely, the conservation status of antelopes varies greatly, with some like the saiga antelope facing critical endangerment due to poaching and habitat loss.

Comparison Chart


Aepyceros melampus
Various, within the Bovidae family

Horn Shape

Lyre-shaped, spiraled
Varies (straight, spiraled, curved)


Savannas and light woodlands
Ranges from deserts to forests

Social Structure

Flexible, often in large herds
Varies widely (solitary to large herds)

Conservation Status

Generally stable
Ranges from stable to critically endangered

Compare with Definitions


A medium-sized antelope known for agility.
The impala can jump over obstacles from a standing start.


Horn shapes and sizes vary greatly.
The kudu has long, twisting horns, while the dik-dik has short, sharp horns.


Males feature long, spiraled horns.
Male impalas use their horns during mating season displays and battles.


Refers to many species within the Bovidae family.
The term 'antelope' includes species from the tiny dik-dik to the giant eland.


Forms large herds during the rainy season.
Herds of impalas can often be seen grazing together on the African plains.


Occupies a wide range of environments.
The Arabian oryx thrives in arid desert conditions.


Grazes on grasses and browses on shrubs.
Impalas adjust their diet seasonally to available vegetation.


Varies from solitary to forming massive herds.
The wildebeest migrates in large herds across the Serengeti.


Prefers savannas and light woodlands.
Impalas are commonly seen in places like Kruger National Park.


Many face threats from hunting and habitat loss.
The critically endangered saiga antelope has suffered from poaching.


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.


The term antelope is used to refer to many species of even-toed ruminant that are indigenous to various regions in Africa and Eurasia. Antelope comprise a wastebasket taxon (miscellaneous group) within the family Bovidae, encompassing all Old World ruminants that are not bovines, sheep, goats, deer, or giraffes.


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


A swift-running deerlike ruminant with smooth hair and upward-pointing horns, of a group native to Africa and Asia that includes the gazelles, impala, gnus, and elands.


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


Any of various swift-running ruminant mammals of the family Bovidae, native to Africa and Eurasia and having unbranched horns.


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


A pronghorn.


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.


Leather made from antelope hide.


African antelope with ridged curved horns; moves with enormous leaps


Any of several African mammals of the family Bovidae distinguished by hollow horns, which, unlike deer, they do not shed.


(US) The pronghorn, Antilocapra americana.


A fierce legendary creature said to live on the banks of the Euphrates, having long serrated horns and being hard to catch.


One of a group of ruminant quadrupeds, intermediate between the deer and the goat. The horns are usually annulated, or ringed. There are many species in Africa and Asia.
The antelope and wolf both fierce and fell.


Graceful Old World ruminant with long legs and horns directed upward and backward; includes gazelles; springboks; impalas; addax; gerenuks; blackbucks; dik-diks

Common Curiosities

Which antelope is the fastest?

The pronghorn, often referred to as an antelope, is one of the fastest land mammals.

Are impalas found outside of Africa?

Impalas are native to eastern and southern Africa and are not naturally found in other continents.

How do impalas adapt to their environment?

Impalas are adaptable, able to change their feeding habits from grazing to browsing depending on the season.

Which antelope has the largest horns?

The giant eland holds the record for the largest horns among antelopes, which can grow impressively large.

Can all antelopes leap as impalas do?

Not all antelopes have the same leaping capabilities; this trait is particularly prominent in impalas.

Are there any antelopes adapted to desert environments?

Yes, several antelopes, like the oryx and addax, are well adapted to life in arid environments.

How do conservation efforts differ for impalas and other antelopes?

Conservation strategies depend on the specific needs and threats facing each species, with impalas generally having less critical conservation concerns.

What distinguishes an impala from other antelopes?

Impalas are known for their unique reddish-brown coat, lyre-shaped horns, and exceptional leaping ability.

How do impalas interact within their herds?

Impalas exhibit complex social behaviors, with males establishing dominance for breeding rights and females forming nursery groups.

How do antelopes affect the biodiversity of their habitats?

As part of the food chain, antelopes support biodiversity by serving as prey and controlling vegetation through grazing.

What are the main threats to antelopes?

Habitat loss, hunting, and competition with livestock are significant threats to various antelope species.

What role do impalas play in their ecosystem?

As both prey and grazers, impalas play a critical role in maintaining the ecological balance in their habitats.

Can antelopes be domesticated?

Unlike some other animals, antelopes are generally not domesticated, though they may be kept in reserves or zoos.

Which is more numerous, impalas or other antelopes?

Impalas are among the more numerous antelope species, though this varies widely across different regions and species.

What is the smallest type of antelope?

The royal antelope, native to West Africa, is the smallest, standing only at about 25 cm tall at the shoulder.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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