Impalas are a common sight on the savannas of Gorongosa – just look for their distinct white and black tail and black “M-shaped” marking on their rump. Impalas are one of the more entertaining antelopes to watch as they perform graceful, energetic leaps like acrobats. You may wonder why the impala does these displays for seemingly no reason. It’s not clearly understood, but it may be a display of their strength and speed to discourage predators from trying to capture them. The best time to see impalas is when they graze early in the morning or in the late afternoon as they can get much-needed water from the dewy grass and avoid the afternoon heat. You’ll notice that impalas are incredibly social and if you look closely, you can see that there are two different kinds of herds: large, strong males with their harem of females, and younger, weaker males band together to form bachelor groups.
Unlike impalas, bushbucks are solitary animals that rarely form groups. The bushbuck’s gorgeous chestnut coat is adorned with white spots and stripes on the back legs, and a white stripe on the chest. Bushbucks are territorial and you can always find them faithfully protecting their favorite sites. You have the best chance of seeing bushbucks early in the morning near water, or later if the sky is overcast. Bushbucks are browsers that feed mostly on leaves, buds and fruits of low bushes and trees. You may even see one licking the ground to get minerals and salt from the nutrient-rich soil.
Reedbucks are the elegant, shy beauties of Gorongosa. They are a pale golden color with a thick, bushy tail and a distinctive black spot below each ear, and the males have forward-pointing horns. Reedbucks get their name because they have to stay close to water at all times and often hide in reed-beds. If you’re not watching closely, you’ll miss them hiding the reeds and tall grasses. If they sense danger coming, instead of running away they often lie down in the reeds. If you close your eyes and listen carefully, you may hear a long whistling sound. That is a territorial male telling other males to back-off, otherwise they’ll be met with a sparring match.