24 May Farming with Nyala: A few things to consider
The Nyala buck (officially known as Tragelaphus angasii) is a medium-sized antelope with a build similar to that of a bushbuck and the face of a kudu. In the wild you can recognise it by looking out for a light chestnut to chocolate-brown pelt that features 10-14 vertical white stripes on the flanks and distinctive white markings on the face (horizontal stripes on the muzzle just below the eyes, dots on the cheeks and a patch on the lower throat).
The nyala has recently garnered much interest among first-time wildlife buyers keen on finding a foothold in the game breeding industry, and with good reason – it is an affordable choice. These bucks don’t require exorbitant handling and management costs, their numbers build fairly quickly and as such they are a great option for start-up game farmers, as well as weekend or part-time ranchers. They also don’t require overly large tracts of land – where nutrition is adequate they can be bred in smaller units with a good return on investment
Nyala thrive in thicket, closed woodland, riverine bush and forest habitats. They require abundant shade, cover for refuge, a constant supply of fresh drinking water and a large variety of broadleaf forb species to browse. The ideal habitat comprises a 4-23cm sweet grass layer, a minimum of 15% thicket and should be no less than 60 ha in size – nyala spend 70-90% of its life in thicket and become nocturnal in environments lacking in this foliage component. Nyala cannot survive in areas with temperatures lower than -2°C or a rainfall of less than 300mm.
The Nyala is a highly selective, mixed feeder taking in large quantities of grass, forbs and browse (grass contributes 12-30% of its dietary intake). They prefer the fruit, pods and flowers of broadleaf forbs and eat only soft, green new-growth grass tufts (dry leaves and stems are avoided completely). Nyala is dependent on fresh water and an adult will drink an average of 3.5 litres daily.
Nyala social structure
The nyala’s social behaviour is semi-gregarious and most are found in pairs or in small groups of 3-15. Most bull herds consist of 2-3 individuals, with a maximum of 8. A hierarchy of dominance exists among the bulls. Breeding groups consist of <15 individuals and include 2-3 adult ewes and 1-2 sub-adults of both genders with or without 1-2 adult bulls.
Would you like to know more farming with and taking care of nyala? Get in touch with the expert team at West Acres Animal Hospital and keep an eye on our blog for more helpful information regarding proper pet- and wildlife care.