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[nyah' luh] Tragelaphus angasii
The nyala is one of the most sexually dimorphic species of antelope. An adult male stands about 42 inches at the shoulder, is up to 6.5 feet long, and weighs up to 275 pounds; females are considerably smaller.
All juveniles are chestnut in color, but males become slate gray as they age and develop spiral horns up to 33 inches long. The male has a red forehead and a long fringe of hair on the throat and underparts; its upper lip, chin, and ear bases are white, and there is a white stripe across the nose, a white chest band, and about 14 white body stripes. The female has a dark nose, no throat fringe, and only about 11 body stripes.
Distribution and Habitat
Although nyala are only found in a relatvely small area of southeastern Africa -- Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbzbwe, and eastern South Africa -- it is fairly plentiful within its range. It lives in dry savanna woodlands, but prefers being in proximity to high quality grassland and fresh water.
Nyala are both grazers and browsers. They eat the leaves, twigs, flowers and fruits from a variety of plants, as well as fresh green grass. They will also follow feeding baboons to take advantage of the fruits and leaves that are dislodged from trees.
Like most antelope, nyala are gregarious. Rams live singly or in small groups, while females and young form separate herds of up to 16 or more individuals. The herds are not territorial, and it is common for several groups to come together at watering holes and where food is abundant.
Breeding can occur any time of the year, but there is a peak in the spring and a smaller peak in the autumn. Males compete for receptive females; although most competition is through display, with the larger male almost always winning out, if both males are of similar size the competition will escalate to full-blown fighting in which the death of the loser is quite possible.
One, rarely two, calf is born after a gestation of about 7 months. The calf will be left alone in a concealed location while the mother feeds until it is weaned, which usually occurs at about 7 months. Sexual maturity is reached at about 15 months, and average life span in the wild is about 16 years.
Nyala are very shy and cautious, making it difficult for scientists to study them. The fact that they are rarely seen except at water holes also makes it difficult to know how many wild nyala there are, but they are not considered threatened except by habitat loss.
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This page was last updated on June 08, 2018.