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African Animal of the Week: Nyala [PICS]

nyala featured
All images, unless specified, courtesy of Big Game Hunting Adventures

The nyala is a medium-sized species of antelope found in Africa. Keep reading to learn everything you wanted to know about nyala hunting in Africa.

Because they aren't as common or as widely distributed as blue wildebeest, zebra, or impala, they aren't quite as popular among hunters in Africa. Like the waterbuck, they are a very beautiful animal and are striking in appearance. They are also popular among hunters who want to hunt all the spiral-horned antelope in Africa (bushbuck, bongo, eland, kudu, nyala and sitatunga). For these reasons, nyala are a very popular target for many hunters, especially those on a return trip to Africa.

Nyala Description

Scientific Name: Tragelaphus angasi

Nyala are broadly divided into two sub-species: the common nyala (native only to South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe) and the mountain nyala, which is found only in Ethiopia and is one of the toughest animals to hunt in Africa.

Nyala have a shaggy brown or grey coat. They also have a few white stripes and spots on their bodies. Nyala also have a single white chevron on their face between their eyes.

A mature male nyala normally weighs around 200-300 pounds. Females are quite a bit smaller, usually weighing around 100-150 pounds.

Nyala normally live in thickly-wooded bushveld areas. Above all, nyala are very shy and cautious animals and are not often encountered in open terrain (as you can see in the video below).

They are normally browsing animals and prefer to dine on leaves, twigs, fruits, and flowers. However, they are known to eat grass during rainy periods.

Nyala Sex Determination

Nyala are very sexually dimorphic, so males (bulls) and females (ewes) are very easy to tell apart. In fact, they look so different that you could be forgiven for thinking that they were not even the same species. Mature males (top) are dark brown or grey and have horns. Females (bottom) are significantly smaller, do not have horns, and are a light brown or rust color.

nyala male

nyala female

Recommended Calibers for Nyala Hunting

Nyala are not particularly large or tough animals. However, they are often hunted in pretty thick brush. With this in mind, I recommend using something on the order of the .308 Winchester (using premium 180 grain bullets) as a minimum cartridge for nyala hunting to make sure you hit him hard enough that he does not go far after the shot. I'm a firm believer that there is no such thing as "too much gun" and have no reservations about recommending larger cartridges, such as the .30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum, .375 H&H Magnum or even the .416 Rigby for nyala hunting.

If you want to bowhunt nyala, you should use an arrow weighing at least 500 grains and shoot it from a bow with at least a 65-pound draw weight.

Nyala Hunting Methods

Most nyala hunting is conducted via walk and stalk. In some areas, hunters will sit on a hillside and glass likely areas for a good nyala bull. Once spotted, they will then attempt to stalk to within shooting range of the nyala. Since they usually live in secluded areas and in rough terrain, nyala hunting can be a pretty physically demanding endeavor and involve walking many miles through some rough country. Any hunter interested in hunting nyala, especially mountain nyala, should be in very good physical condition.

SEE ALSO: 6 Animals in Africa You Need to Hunt

Nyala Shot Placement

Since they are so shy, shot placement on nyala is extremely important, since you probably won't get many good shots on these elusive animals. Fortunately, they aren't very large or extremely tough animals, and won't go far if hit well. When the animal is standing broadside, aim at the center of the shoulder, approximately one third of the way up the body (this goes for both rifle and bow hunters). Due to their shaggy hair, it can be difficult to precisely judge exactly where the bottom of their chest is. Because of this, when in doubt, aim slightly high, as opposed to slightly low.

nyala shot placement broadside 2

Don't forget to adjust your aiming point accordingly if your nyala is quartering towards or away from you (aim slightly forward if it is quartering towards you and slightly to the rear if it is quartering away). The shot placement for a bow on an nyala that is quartering away is the same as for a rifle hunter, though I do not recommend taking a shot on an nyala quartering towards you with a bow.

nyala shot placement quartering towards 2

Cost to Hunt Nyala

Even though there isn't an extremely high demand for nyala among visiting hunters in Africa, they aren't a cheap animal to hunt. The fact that they aren't a very common or widespread animal in Africa really helps drive the price up. Though the price will vary between different countries and outfitters, the trophy fee for common nyala ranges from $2,000-$3,500, with an average of around $2,700.

Mountain nyala are not only an extremely difficult animal to hunt, but are very expensive as well. Since they may only be hunted in Ethiopia, they are considerably more expensive to hunt and their trophy fee is normally around $15,000-$20,000.

Ready to go nyala hunting?

All images, unless specified, courtesy of Big Game Hunting Adventures

Like what you see here? You can read more great hunting articles by John McAdams at The Big Game Hunting Blog. Follow him on Twitter @TheBigGameHunt.

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African Animal of the Week: Nyala [PICS]