It is so common in the safari industry that guides are taught things which are not inline with logic and the laws of nature.
Sometimes an exciting story is created from watching something and guides/rangers take it a truth and over time if you say it enough you can believe it. The worst thing is you make your clients believe it.
I have always found that if you cannot scientifically prove that something happens, then it is best to rather refrain from spreading a myth that may or may not be true, you just never know if your next client has a doctorate on the topic you choose to share…
One of the most common myths is the one about impala holding back their birthing until the rains have fallen. In theory it sounds very cool, but in reality? Do you really think that an impala ram says “keep it down for another month, I can smell that the rains will be a month late this year…”
Just in case you haven’t yet figured out the impossibilities of this theory, I will go into more detail.
impala have a gestation of about 6.5 months or around 196/200 days. This means that right at the point of conception the fetus begins to grow.
If an impala holds back her birth…her baby will become too big to be pushed out during labour which means that both the mother and the calf would die.
This is also a huge issue when it comes to predation. If an impala gets too “big” she will not have the ability to get away from a predator and again, both mother and baby would suffer.
Mother Nature obviously has worked this all out and therefore there is a rough gestation period for every animal in the wild to prevent the abovementioned problems from happening.
Hence it is impossible for an impala to hold back her birth. You may find birth times can fluctuate a few days on either side which is quite normal and is also an occurrence seen with humans. It is more likely is that the impala ram only got around to breeding with his harem later – this could be due to competition with other males or maybe he was one of the other males that dethroned another other big boy and this led to a later impregnation.
I hope that we will all now appreciate a bit of logic into our guiding principles, it’s well worth not taking every book we read or every story we hear at face value. Ask the questions and do some research first!