The Nyala {Tragelaphus}

South Africa Wildlife

The Nyala {Tragelaphus}

The Nyala
The Nyala

The nyala is found in the eastern part of South Africa, in riverside thickets and dense brush and fringe forests. It is never far from water. Male nyala are far larger than females with distinctly dimorphic color. Spiral horns (male only) twist backwards in the plane of the face, with unpigmented tips. There is a crest of longish hair down the back of the neck, clear along the back, exaggerated in males, which also have shaggy hair down the throat and under the belly.

Adult males are basically grey and the females and calves are reddish brown. The crested mane and shag are black and the male's legs shade to rust toward the feet. Both male, female and calves are marked with vertical white stripes along the ribs and flank. There is a white stripe along the back, on either side of the crest, and a white chevron mark between the eyes (less pronounced in the female). There is white under the tail.

Quick Facts

Genus & Species: Lowland Nyala - Tragelaphus agasi | Mountain Nyala - T. buxtoni

Length: Male = 210 cm (plus tail, 43 cm); Female = 179 cm (plus tail, 36 cm)
Height: Male = 112 cm (about 3 1/2 feet); Female = 97 cm (about 3 feet)
Weight: Male = 107 kg (about 200 pounds) Female = 62 kg (about 120 lb)

Diet Description: They are predominantly browsers, but do graze occasionally. They carefully select higher quality food items, including fruits, seed pods, flowers, and tender leaves, occasionally taking tender bark and tubers.

Habitat: Nyala are not territorial. Although they frequent thick vegetation, they will venture into open areas to graze fine grasses and forbes. They prefer succulent, higher-protein vegetation. Horns and hooves are used to dig tubers. Because of their more specialized diet, nyala groups are not large and they move very erratically as they forage.

The Nyala
The Nyala
Their specialized diet may be the reason they are not numerous or widely spread. They do not have the explosive running ability of the open-ground antelope and so must depend on melting into the vegetation to escape predators. The white under-tail serves as a warning flag to other herd members as they bark and bound for cover on sighting a predator.

Reproduction: Females are mature at about two years. They tend to stay with the mother's group and so the small herds are usually related females. Males disperse into bachelor groups, becoming more solitary toward maturity.

Female groups will be followed by a variety of males until the breeding season arrives. Then, only the dominant bull of the area will stay with the group. One calf is born after a gestation of about 7 months..

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Nyala Facts and Photographs
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