The key difference between a male and female nyala is that the female does not have horns and is much smaller and lighter than the male. The female is rufous brown in color with white stripes. While the male is very dark in color with far fewer white stripes which are also less prominent. In addition, males have a facial chevron which females don’t.
The nyala is mainly active in the early morning and late evening. A shy animal, it prefers water holes rather than open spaces. The nyala does not show signs of territoriality, and individuals’ areas can overlap each other. They are very cautious creatures. Old males live alone, but single sex or mixed family groups of up to 10 individuals can be found. These inhabit thickets within dense and dry savanna woodlands.
The nyala is a spiral-horned and middle-sized antelope, between a bushbuck and a kudu. The male stands up to 47 inches, the female is up to 35 inches tall. Males weigh 180 – 220 pounds, while females weigh 120–150 pounds. Life expectancy of the nyala is about 19 years.
The coat is rusty or rufous brown in females and juveniles. But it grows a dark brown or slate grey in adult males, often with a bluish tinge. Females and young males have ten or more white vertical stripes on their sides. Other markings are visible on the face, throat, flanks and thighs. Stripes are very reduced or absent in older males. Both sexes have a dorsal crest of hair running right from the back of the head to the end of the tail. Males have another line of hair along the midline of their chest and belly. Only the males have horns. There are one or two twists.
Nyala have small hooves for their body size. As they walk, the hind feet step into the position where the front feet have just been. This is known as registering and reduces the amount of noise made with each step.
The bases of the back of a nyala’s ears are white as is the underside of the fluffy tail which is raised when the animal takes fright. These devices are ‘follow me’ symbols that facilitate young in following after the adults. The flash of the white tail also provides a stark target to a predator but as soon as the nyala stops, the tail is dropped and the predator’s focus is lost. The disruptive camouflage markings then come into play further concealing the nyala from the predators view so long as it remains still.
The thicket habitat of the nyala provides ideal cover for the calves when they are born. Nyala experience a lying up period for the first two to three weeks of their lives during which time they remain hidden to allow them to build up their strength before moving around with the adults. The mother visits her calf to feed and groom it. If it becomes threatened, the calf instinctively flattens itself onto the ground and due to its lack of scent at such a young age, can easily avoid the attention of predators this way.
Shot Placement for Nyala Hunting
Your nyala trophy should have an average shoulder height of around 43 inches, weigh about 200 pounds and have a horn length of approximately 24 – 26 inches. The Safari Club International minimum score for a nyala is 63. This is measured by adding the length of each horn as well as the circumference of the bases.
Nyala is considered by many to be the most beautiful African antelope. A very sort after trophy. Stalks will be in thick bush and require patience. Many nyala bulls are shot in the last 20 minutes of light. A mature nyala bull stepping out from the thick bush in to a small opening, and giving you your shot after hours of glassing is very exciting and will not be forgotten by any hunter. Nyala when wounded will often have little or no blood spoor because of their thick coat which absorbs the blood. So, a good first shot is of vital importance when nyala hunting.
Hunting nyala calls for quality expanding bullets. The various 30 calibers would be a good choice to anchor your nyala. We would once again recommend the flat shooting 7mm.
For those hunters who do not wish to go through the red tape of having to bring a rifle in to South Africa Nick Bowker Hunting has available a 7mm custom made Remington Magnum fitted with a suppressor. The rifle is mounted with a Swarovski Z8 tactical scope. We have hand loaded Hornady ELD-X ammunition. This set up including ammunition is available as part of all hunting packages free of charge.
As with most African animals shot placement should always be in the bottom third of the shoulder.
While most nyala are shot behind high fences in the Eastern Cape, Nick Bowker hunting has access to a number of free-range herds in the Bedford area.
Nyala vital organs for shot placement
The nyala forms part of the Spiral Horned family and is certainly the most beautiful of all of the family, consisting of Kudu, Nyala, Bushbuck and Eland. It is a very interesting hunt with great stalking opportunities. The trophy quality of a bull is determined by good bases, a steep rise forming a "bell" and tips either pointing straight up or flaring outwards. The classic trophy to many is a flaring bull with solid white tips. A very popular species to hunt and a must for those hunters interested in collecting the spiral family.
IDENTIFICATION: Medium sized, elegant and slender antelope. The male has a wide chevron mark between the eyes, white-tipped mane and yellow "socks.
Nyala Trophy taken with Nick Bowker. Your Professional Hunter and Outfitter