Nyala - Tragelaphus angasii
Mountain Nyala – Tragelaphus buxtoni
There are two recognized species of this most striking medium-sized antelope, with the Common or Southern Nyala being far easier and accessible to hunt and being widespread throughout the eastern regions of southern Africa. The male is a dark chocolaty gray color with yellow stockinged legs, a white mane running along the top of his back and white stripes down his flank.
The rare Mountain Nyala, also known locally as Agazen, is found only in small area of high altitude woodland (Bale massif) of central Ethiopia and today rates as one of the most difficult to bag in terms of scarcity and cunning. They are bigger bodied, close to Kudu size with wider thicker horns and their markings are not as distinct as the southern nyala. Recently it is thought they are closer cousins of the Kudu than the Nyala but they retain the distinctive white chevrons below their eyes and below their chins.
Nyala occur in small family groups without a dominant male although older bulls tend to be solitary or in pairs. They are fond of thick riverine bush and graze throughout the day and night if undisturbed. They are extremely sensitive to weather conditions and any kind of unnatural disturbance or presence.
When two males confront each other they stiffen and raise their hair, almost like domestic cats, circling each other before one usually gives way and runs.
Nyala hunting tips – the hunt
Nyala are usually hunted in the early morning and late afternoons when they move into clearings to sun themselves or browse. This applies to both species yet the mountain Nyala lives at high altitudes and older bulls are very much solitary animals.
They are a very challenging prospect when hunted on foot and the patient hunter should spend time completely glassing an area before moving on as they are very well camouflaged.
Nyala hunting – where
Most nyala are hunted in the Kwazulu-Natal province of South Africa where they are endemic, with a few being taken in the rest of the country where they have been introduced onto game farms. They also occur in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi. The biggest trophies are definitely found in Natal in areas such as Mkuze, Magudu and Hluhluwe.
For the Mountain nyala you specifically hunt the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia and this competes with the Lord Derby Eland as the ultimate spiral horned hunt. Mountain Nyala quotas are very limited, as is hunting in Ethiopia with only 4 operators allowed to hunt the region. Of course many other safari operators offer these hunts but ultimately they all have to use one of the Ethiopian operators.
Nyala hunting – the trophy
A good sized male will have a distinctive bell shaped set of horns, with the tips being ivory and flaring outwards. The initial outward curve should extend beyond the ears, turning inwards and forwards before flaring out into ivory tips. These days, on a typical 10-day safari, a 25 inch bull is a good starting point, with 28 and upwards being an exceptional trophy
did you know?
The Mountain Nyala was the very last antelope to become known to the west or science and still today very little is known about this magnificent antelope.