Tragelaphus - 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.

Did you know? The nyala, also called inyala, is a spiral-horned antelope native to southern Africa.

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.

Genus and species

Lowland Nyala - Tragelaphus agasi
Mountain Nyala - Tragelaphus 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).


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.

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.


Look forward to seeing nyala when you visit Pilanesberg National Park (which is just over three hours from Johannesburg), Kruger National Park (close to the magnificent Panorama Route in Mpumalanga), the Tembe Elephant Park (just under five hours from Durban in KwaZulu-Natal), and the Limpopo reserves of d’Nyala and Mokololo Dam, the latter of which is around three hours’ drive from Pretoria.

Diet - Herbivores

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.


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.

Life Expectancy

19 years in the wild.


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Where to see Nyala in their natural habitat?

Want to see nyala in their natural habitat? In South Africa, they are most numerous in the Kruger National Park. Also find nyala in many game reserves and national parks, including...

Conservation Status
South Africa's Big 5
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