Nyala Antelope

Nyala Antelope Quick Facts

Nyala Antelope

Common Name

Nyala Antelope

Scientific Name

Lowland nyala (Tragelaphus angasii)

Primarily found in

Southern Africa. The rare Mountain nyala (Tragelaphus buxtoni) is endemic to central Ethiopia.  While similar to the lowland Nyala in appearance, it is now considered more closely related to the kudu.


Leaves, grass

Life Span

14-16 years

Intro to the Nyala Antelope

Similar in basic appearance to its relative, the bongo antelope.  Medium-sized antelope with a body that appears slender.  Male bulls are dark brown to gray, growing more gray with age.  Legs are tan.  Nyala are noted for their striking white body striping and long, bushy tail with white underside.  Both sexes have a white throat patch, lips and chin and spots that may persist on hindquarters and 2 to 3 spots on cheeks.  Bulls have a white chevron across face.  Males develop manes along upper and lower neck, belly, and ridge line of their backs.  Horns of bulls grow upward and spiral loosely 1 to 1.5 times.  Reach lengths of 21 to 33 inches and are yellow-tipped.  Significant difference in appearance of females and adult males.  Females lack horns and have a burnt orange coat with slender white stripes like young.  Males stand 3.5 ft and weigh 190 to 290 lbs; females 3 ft at the shoulder, weighing 120 to 150 lbs.

Nyala Antelope behavior

Nyala have a very shy, reclusive nature, approaching open spaces with caution.  Prefer life in dry savannas with dense brush near water.  Do not venture far from water sources.  Stage in brush during daylight hours, coming to water around sunset.  Generally docile, but will attack humans if cornered and males spar casually in the presence of an estrous female.  Manes of males fluff as animal becomes excited.  Males also use this fluffing as part of an elaborate display of dominance.  Though males seldom fight aggressively, they do posture, back mane fully erect, and circle each other very slowly in attempts to intimidate (see video - below).  Breed at any time, but peak season is spring and autumn.  After nyala ewes give birth they will hide the newborn for the first 3 weeks or so, returning to nurse and relocate the lamb. When the lamb can keep up on its own it is allowed to join the herd.  This behavior is similar to that of kudu, sable and some other species of antelope.  Their alarm call is a sharp, dog-like bark.

Nyala Antelope food and eating habits

Nyala are almost exclusively browsers of leaves except when grass shouts are young and green.  They feed on fruits, pods, twigs and leaves.  Acacia leaves and pods are most utilized in the wild.  May dig up tubers and gnaw tree bark.  Most browsing takes place during late afternoon hours, moving into open areas to graze only in darkness.

Nyala Antelope breeding

Majority of breeding takes place in spring and autumn (can occur year round).  Females mature at 11 to 12 months and males at 18 months (though not socially mature until around 5 years of age).  A single young is born, normally from August to October, after a gestation period of 8 to 9 months.

Nyala Antelope average life span

Generally live 14 to 16 years.

Keeping Nyala Antelope

Prolific breeders in captivity.  No known ill effects from inbreeding.  Maturing males should be isolated from adult males if harassment persists.  Lice can be a problem in the wild.  Recommend 8 ft fence, but nyala can jump vertical obstacle well if threatened.  Higher fence is needed for working pens.  Survive well in Texas climates.  May require being kept indoors in during winter in colder, northern states.

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