Nyala are medium sized antelopes and they have a body length between 1.4 and 1.6 m (4.5 – 5.25 ft), a tail length between 40 and 55 cms (16 – 22 inches) and they weigh between 55 and 125 kgs (120 – 280 lbs). Male Nyala are much larger and heavier than females.
Male Nyala have a dark grey coloured head and body with indistinct stripes along their torso. Their lower legs are tan in colour and they have have a fringe of hair along their underside and a thin crest on their back. They have horns that measure up to 70 cms (28 inches) in length and a white “V” between their eyes.
Female and juvenile Nyala are red/brown in colour and they have distinctive, vertical white stripes along their body. They do not have any horns but they have a white “V” between their eyes.
They spend most of the day, particularly the hottest part, under the shade and they tend to feed during the evening and early in the morning. They have an alarm call that is a “dog-like” bark.
Nyala are found near dense bush in the dry savanna woodlands of southern Africa. They prefer areas that are close to a water source and good quality grass.
Females live in groups that consist of 2 – 30 individuals. It is not uncommon for groups of female Nyala to be related as young females stay in close proximity to their mother once they are independent.
Males also form loose groups but these are more transitory. Neither male or female groups are territorial and their home ranges often overlap.
Nyala feed upon grasses, leaves, twigs, fruits and flowers. They drink daily when water is plentiful but they are able to survive in areas when water is only seasonally available.
Nyala breed throughout the year although most young are born in spring and there is a small peak in the autumn. After a gestation period of 7 months, 1 calf (sometimes 2) is born. At birth the young Nyala weighs approximately 5 kg (11 lbs) and they remain hidden from predators for approximately 18 days.
They are weaned at around 7 months old but they remain with their mother until her next calf is born. Nyala are sexually mature by the time they are 18 months old.
Common predators of Nyala include lions, hyenas, leopards and african wild dogs.
If a predator is detected a member of the group will let out a barking call and the other Nyala in the area will react and run away. Nyala also react to the warning calls from other species such as impala, baboons, and kudu.
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