Nyala is a Swahili name, from the Zulu ‘Inyala’.
Like most antelope Nyala are shy creatures and aren’t very comfortable in open-spaces. They tend to only venture into the public eye as they drink at waterholes. Usually exclusively browsers, the Nyala feed mostly on fruits, pods, twigs and leaves.
Like a growing number of people, Nyala prefer their own company – although they can be found in family groups of around 10 people.
It is easy to distinguish between adult males and females. Females tend to be slightly smaller than the males at around 90cm and do not have horns. Like their young, the females are a reddish brown (almost copper) colour with the white vertical lines on their backs.
Standing at 110cm the males have shaggy dark brown fur with a white line under their eyes and white patches on their chest and belly. Like humans male Nyala grey with age. They have loosely spiralled horns (approx 21 to 33 inches long with yellow tips) and a long fringe on their throat and underbelly – which does make them look a little scruffy. Like the females the males also have white vertical markings on their backs which look as though paint has been dribbled over them.
Nyala have a different dominance display to impala. Generally docile they rarely fight aggressively, with back mane fully erect they circle each other slowly whilst using their horns against objects or even the ground in an attempt to intimidate. The erect hair on back and fringe helps the bull to appear larger, aiding in his intimidation.
Nyala breed at any time of the year with their peak seasons being Spring and Autumn. After a gestation period of 8-9 months The newborn lambs are hidden for the first 3 weeks with the mother returning only to feed and relocate them. When the lamb has got used to its legs and is able to keep up with the rest of the group it joins the herd.
Females mature at 11 to 12 months and males at 18 months (although males are not socially mature until around 5 years of age).