Mountain nyala hunting is like 'vertical bongo hunting'...
So if you think you would like gasping for breath at up at about 10,000 feet, struggling over steep terrain covered in thick, dank vegetation, with poor visibility, in the cold and wet, then mountain nyala hunting is definitely for you!
Mountain nyala hunting is right up there with the other two ultimate big game hunts, for the bongo and Lord Derby eland. This magnificent spiral-horned antelope is considered one of the most difficult African big-game species to hunt.
Mountain Nyala Trophy Minimums
Tragelaphus buxtoni (Mountain Nyala)
RW Measurement Method
SCI Measurement Method
Where To Hunt Mountain Nyala
Mountain nyala are only found in central Ethiopia within the Bale and Ahmar mountain ranges at an elevation of between 2000m and 4000m above sea level.
Mountain Nyala Hunting Prices
In a word...expensive. The trophy fee alone for a mountain nyala is US$15,000 and a full bag 24 day 1x1 Ethiopian hunt will cost in the region of US$73,500.
Plan and book your hunt well in advance. There are only a handful registered outfitters permitted to hunt in Ethiopia and they get booked up years ahead for mountain nyala and the other game animals only found in Ethiopia.
The mountain nyala hunts are set lengths of usually 21 or 24 days and you have a choice of various other additional animals you may hunt, if you want. Some shorter hunts are available if you only want a mountain nyala and a just a few other mountain animals that occur in the particular mountain area.
Due to the rainy seasons, mountain nyala hunting is best done between October and June.
For mountain nyala hunting you will need to pick a 'highland' hunt package. If you want to hunt the lowland Ethiopian species as well in the same trip, you will need to book a long hunt and change locations.
Mountain Nyala Hunting Methods
Mountain nyala hunting is somewhat akin to sheep hunting - tough and treacherous mountain walking with the added hazards of thick, slippery, stinging African forest vegetation and insect life.
Typically mountain nyala hunting involves trying to get to an ideal vantage point by day break to start glassing over the distant mountain valleys and ridges. If, after a few days, no suitable mountain nyala bull has been seen in the area, you will move on, fly camping in another likely location.
When a suitable bull is spotted, you can either take your shot then, if you can, or attempt a hurried stalk to get in closer - too slow and the mountain nyala will have disappeared before you get in range.
The shooting distance will be from 100 yards, if you're very lucky, or out to possibly 450 yards.
A Good Mountain Nyala Trophy
Horn length - long lyre-shaped horns with thick, heavy bases and out-turning, ivory tips will make a good trophy. An older animal may have bald spots on the neck and somewhat smoother, worn horns. 35" upwards would be a good trophy.
Mountain nyala utilise various elevations of dense montane forests, depending on the season. Their diet fluctuates with seasonal changes and habitat zone. They mostly browse on the leaves of herbs, shrubs, ferns and trees. They also graze on lichen and young grass shoots during the rainy season.
Mountain Nyala Social Structure
Mountain nyala are most active in the early mornings and late afternoons. They live in groups of about four to six animals, though sometimes more, include females, young and often a single bull. They are not territorial. Bulls form smaller bachelor groups of two or three individuals that are similar in age. As mountain nyala bulls become older they tend to become solitary. The alarm call of the mountain nyala is a 'cough' or grunt, if they feel slightly threatened and a sharp bark if the threat is serious.
Mountain Nyala Gestation Period
After a gestation period of around 8-9 months, one offspring is born.
Mountain Nyala Gender Identification
Mountain nyala are a grey-brown colour, the bulls being darker than the females. The fur is shaggier in the winter and shorter in the summer months. There is a pattern of white spots and stripes on the flanks with a white chevron between the eyes and two white spots on each cheek. Also there are white patches under the neck, at the throat and on the chest. Mountain nyala bulls are larger than females which have no horns. The horns are lyre-shaped, with one and a half or two twists.
Mountain Nyala Picture Gallery
Click images to enlarge
Mountain Nyala Trophy Permits (2015)
Tragelaphus buxtoni (Mountain Nyala)
Mountain Nyala Trophy Taxidermy
If your budget can stretch to it, a mountain nyala is one of those specially handsome antelope that simply demand a full mount display. If a full mount is not possible, of course mountain nyala make great pedestal or shoulder mounts.
Don't forget to tell your taxidermist not to blacken and polish the horns, if you want the horns to look natural.
As mountain nyala trophies are not one of the more usual African animals to set up, you will need to seek out a taxidermist who has had some experience with them. If you don't, you could end up with a mountain nyala on a southern nyala form.
Why A Mountain Nyala Was Called An Nyala
The mountain nyala was the last large African antelope to be discovered in 1908 by Major Ivor Buxton (1884 - 1969) who shot several specimens while he was on a hunting trip in Ethiopia with M C Allbright. They presented the 'mountain nyala' specimens to the British Museum of Natural History.
While the trophies were being set up at Rowland Ward Taxidermy in London, Richard Lydekker of the Natural History Museum, first identified the 'mountain nyala' specimens as a new type of 'spotted' greater kudu and proposed calling it Strepsiceros buxtoni. Rowland Ward, however, thought the specimens to be a completely new species of spiral-horned antelope.
As there were only 2 genera of spiral-horned antelope at the time, Tragelaphus (bushbuck & common nyala) and Strepsiceros (kudu & lesser kudu), debate was had as to which genus the new species bore closest resemblance.
Lydekker eventually determined that the new species shared a closer resemblance to the common nyala than to the kudu, due to the dark skin colour and coat texture of some of these specimens. However he proposed and succeeded in the merging the 2 genera as Tragelaphus because the 'mountain nyala' was so similar to both the kudu & common nyala.
So in October 1910 Lydekker finally stated the species should be known as Tragelaphus buxtoni and designated Mountain Nyala as it's popular name.
The debate over the name of the 'mountain nyala continued on for years. in 1932, German zoologists wanted it called the 'medium kudu' as they believed it resembled the lesser and greater kudu more than it resembled the common nyala. In 1980, other German zoologists wanted a name change because they thought it resembled western sitatunga due to it's white markings.
Recommended Reading For Mountain Nyala Hunting
Search For The Spiral Horn by Craig Boddington (2002) who is one of the few hunters who has successfully hunted each of the major varieties and most of the subspecies of the nine spiral-horned antelope of Africa.
Spiral Horn Dreams by Terry Wieland (1995) is about a subject that arouses as much excitement and emotion as any big game. Kudu, bongo, Lord Derby eland, sitatunga, mountain nyala and bushbuck. These animals cause any big game hunter both pain and joy - sometimes simultaneously. If you're not 'mad keen' about hunting these animals before reading this book, you will be afterwards.
Recommended Mountain Nyala Hunting DVD
Ethiopia: Death In The Rift Valley features Mark Buchanan on two separate safaris to Ethiopia in search of some of Africa's toughest game trophies. To the Bale Mountains in pursuit of the mountain nyala, then on to the Omo River Valley.
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