The Beautiful Nyala

In my last few articles I’ve profiled the waterbuck, eland, kudu, the cape buffalo, the impala, the warthog, the zebra, and the blue wildebeest. Today, I’m writing about another one of Africa’s beautiful spiral horned antelope: the nyala. Along with the kudu, eland, and bushbuck, they are one of the four most common spiral horned antelope in Africa. As you can see, they are a magnificent animal.

Nyala Description & Distribution

Scientific Name: Tragelaphus angasii

Nyala are a medium sized spiral horned antelope that is bigger than the bushbuck, but smaller than kudu and eland. Male nyala (bulls) are significantly larger than females (ewes). Big males weigh 200-300 pounds and females usually weigh 100-150 pounds.

As you can see in the photos below, male and female nyala look very different. In fact, you could be forgiven for thinking that they are two different species. Mature males (top) are a dark brown or grey color and have horns. Females (bottom) are smaller, do not have horns, and are a light brown or rust color. Both males and females also have a single white chevron on their face between their eyes.

nyala malenyala femaleLike the bull in the photo below, nyala normally live in thickly wooded areas. They are very shy and cautious animals and are not often encountered in open terrain. Coupled with the rough terrain that they usually inhabit, this can make nyala hunts very challenging.

nyala thick bush

Nyala Hunting Methods

Virtually all nyala hunts are conducted via walk and stalk or via spot and stalk after glassing promising hillsides. Since nyala live in such rough country, these hunts can be very physically demanding.

Recommended Nyala Cartridges

Nyala are not extremely large or tough animals. However, shots on nyala tend to be at close range and through thick brush. Because of this, most outfitters recommend the .308 Winchester (using premium, 180gr bullets) as a minimum cartridge for hunting nyala in order to make it does not go far after the shot. The .30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum, 9.3x62mm Mauser, and .375 H&H Magnum are also excellent choices for hunting nyala.

With good bullets and excellent shot placement, smaller cartridges like the 6.5 Grendel, 6.5 Swede, .260 Remington, 6.5 PRC, 6.5 Creedmoor, 270 WSM, .270 Winchester, 6.8 SPC, 7mm WSM, 7mm-08 Remington and 7mm Mauser will also do the trick on Nyala.

Nyala Shot Placement

Even though they are not especially large or tough animals, nyala are very elusive, so you must make the most of the shots that you do get on them. Fortunately, shot placement on nyala is simple: when the animal is standing broadside, aim at the center of the shoulder, about one third of the way up the body.

nyala shot placement broadside 2Also, don’t forget to adjust your shot placement if the animal is presenting a quartering shot. Aim slightly behind the shoulder if it is quartering away from you and slightly in front of the shoulder if it is quartering towards you.nyala quartering away 2

One last thing: prospective hunters should strongly consider bringing a basic gun cleaning kit consisting of some basic gun cleaning supplies like cleaning solvent and a bore snake with them to Africa. This is especially important if hunting during the rainy season, but is a good piece of gear for all hunters. You don’t get many shots at really nice nyala, so it’s important that your rifle is functioning properly and shooting accurately at the moment of truth.

The Perfect Shot by Kevin Robertson was used as a reference for shot placement.

Thanks to Big Game Hunting Adventures for the nyala photos.

Learn more about the South Africa hunting safaris Big Game Hunting Adventures offers on their web site as well as the benefits of hunting for wildlife conservation in Africa. Follow them on Facebook, YouTube, & Instagram.

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Posted in: Pro Staff Blog, Scrolls
Big Game Hunter

About the Author:

I was born and raised in Texas where I started hunting white-tailed deer and hogs at an early age with my father and grandfather. Under their tutelage, I developed a strong respect for wildlife and the outdoors, as well as an appreciation and interest in firearms. Since then, I've hunted big game all over the United States as well as in Namibia and Zimbabwe. As a strong supporter of conservation as well as gun rights, I'm a member of Safari Club International, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the National Rifle Association. I live in Washington state with my wife where we both enjoy taking advantage of all the outdoor opportunities available in the Pacific Northwest. I currently serve in the United States Army and have served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a mortar platoon leader and cavalry troop commander. I was born in Texas and have hunted big game all over the United States as well as in Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. I served served on active duty in the United States Army for over 7 years and served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a mortar platoon leader and cavalry troop commander. I live in Washington with my wife and I am currently serving in the Washington Army National Guard. My passion for the outdoors led me to create The Big Game Hunting Blog and Big Game Hunting Adventures in order to share my hunting experiences with others and to help them fulfill their hunting dreams.