Blog


2015-05-31
The Bull & the Ewe


As we thought and shared the reason we do not see those large herds is because they hide in the wood-like areas to seek cover from the winter chill and windy days. We found big Zebra and Wildebeest herds on the Paradise Link Kaallaagte section where there are patches of thick bush.

We aslo sighted on two different occasions Red-crested Korhaan and we heard that Fish Eagle again....love that call!!

At 18:00 it was already dark and the Black-backed Jackal was not more than 20 meters away from the fence, as we sat on the deck the calls were deafening!

We often find Nyala at Dula Nokeng and at Kwalata crossing the Rust de Winter Road, Chantell, the Nature Guide at Sambane gathered interesting Nyala facts to share.

Nyala

Nyala is derived from the traditional Zulu word “inxala”.

There is great sexual diamorphism (differences between sexes) seen in nyala. Females are a reddish-brown colour with a stripe along the ridge of the back and up to 18 lines that run down the sides of the body. The males are slate grey in colour with 14 lines running down the side of the body and white spots on the flank. The lower parts of the male’s legs are yellowish in colour and they have a shaggy white-tipped mane on the ridge of its back as well as a fringe under the neck and belly. The males have spiral horns which is absent in the females.

The lines running down the sides of the body aid camouflage in dense vegetation as it breaks up the outline of the body. Thus the lines are known as disruptive markings.

The diamorphism between males and females means that smaller female will be called an ewe while the bigger male will be called a bull. This also means that any antelope the size of an nyala female and smaller will be called an ewe, while any antelope the size of an nyala bull and bigger will be called a bull.

Nyala tend to live in temporary association groups where individuals are able to join and depart from a specific group without restrictions. Continued bonds will only seen between an ewe and her offspring. The offspring associating with the mother will involve the most recent calf and the previous season’s calf.

Up until the age of two, young bulls will look similar to the female, lacking the slate-grey colour, the mane and the yellow legs. After the age of two it takes another 10 months for the young bull to assume its full adult plumage. The rusty colour in the youngster may contribute to better camouflage growing up and possibly reduce negative attention from the mature males.

Mature nyala bulls tend to remain solitary and do not defend territories. Although they do not defend territories, they exhibit a series of dominance “ceremonies”. These rituals include rubbing their horns in the soil, rubbing their faces and horns on vegetation and uses lateral presentation to show their dominance.

Lateral presentation is a passive way of determining the dominance between bulls. During the presentation they will erect their manes along their neck making the individual appear bigger. Bulls will also walk in an overstated high-step walk and parading around one another. Furthermore the tail is lifted over the rump showing the white underside and in some cases the horn are lowered in an attack position. The bull that feels overwhelmed will back off and show submissive behaviour by dropping his crest. If both bulls are equal competitors it will lead to head to head pushing and clashing horns.

Nyala will often associate with and follow troops of baboons and monkeys to feed on the remnants and food items knocked down from trees.

Sources

Gutteridge, L. 2012. The Bushveld including the Kruger Lowveld

Emmet, M. & Pattrick, S. 2013. Game Ranger in your Backpack. All-in-one interpretive guide to the Lowveld