Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin


Tragelaphus angasii


Nyala are a medium sized antelope. Male nyala tend to be larger than females; males tend to weigh 98-125 kg and have a shoulder height greater than one meter, while females weigh 55-68 kg and have a shoulder height of slightly less than a meter. Male nyala have upwards spiraling horns which curve out at the first turn and can be 80 cm long while females do not have horns. Females and juveniles have a rusty red colored coat while males appear as a slate gray color. Both males and females have a dorsal crest of long hair from the back of the head to the base of the tail, males have an additional fringe of long hair on the midline of the chest and belly. A variety of vertical stripes and spotted patterns exist along the midsection of this species.


Nyala are found in some parts of southeastern Africa. This species prefers thickest in dry savanna woodlands within a proximity to high quality grassland and fresh water.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

Nyala are herbivores, consuming only vegetation. This species of antelope graze and browse, consuming leaves, twigs, flowers and fruits of many plant species. Fresh green grass is a large proportion of their diet during the rainy season. This species drinks water daily if it is available but can survive in areas of seasonal water availability.


This species breeds throughout the year with a peak in the spring and autumn. Females have an estrus cycle of 19 days, two days of the cycle is spent being courted by males while females are only receptive for 6 hours during the entire cycle. A single calf is produced 7 months after mating. The calf is born and remains hidden within a thicket for 18 days after birth while the mother leaves to feed and returns to nurse the calf. Young females remain with their mothers until new offspring are born while young males are driven away by courting males.

Months and Times of Activity

Nyala is active during the night and day, most activity occurs during the evening and night. Most of the day is spent concealed in the bush, avoiding the heat of the day.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

•    Males fight when a female in estrus is present, displaying aggression by raising the white hair of the dorsal crest and tail while holding the head high. Males have been known to be killed by thrusts from the horns of another male.

•    Nyala are gregarious animals; traveling in social groups. This species is found in groups of 30 individuals with a high relatedness within the females because young females stay in the same group as their mothers even after they have produced offspring. Males form groups without long term association.

•    Children’s book featuring this animal: The Antelope Who Loved Cantaloupe by Celeste Marie Halata 


Ciszek, D. 1999. "Tragelaphus angasii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 04, 2014 at