Hunting mountain nyala in Africa


The mountain nyala is the rarest of the spiral horned antelopes of Africa.  It is also the most recently discovered big game animal in Africa, having been discovered in 1908.  The mountain nyala was not discovered until 1908.  At the time of its discovery, it had a much wider distribution and abundance than it enjoys today.  It is estimated that approximately 4,000 mountain nyala remain today.  The range of the mountain nyala today is restricted to the Bale National Park, the park’s surrounding areas, and eastern-Central Ethiopia.

Hunting mountain nyala in Africa is very limited and is strictly controlled by the number of permits issued.  Because of the mountain nyala’s endangered status; importation into some countries may be restricted.  Obtaining a permit to harvest one of these magnificent bulls is truly the pinnacle of the African spiral horned antelope hunter.  These hunts can be quite expensive, but are necessary to complete the 9 spiral horned antelopes of Africa slam.  Many hunters consider the mountain nyala to be the greatest hunting trophy in all of Africa!

Hunting mountain nyala in Africa is done in the Ethiopian highlands at elevations of 9,500 to 14,000 ft.  The majority of mountain nyala are found at elevations below 3,500 ft.  Human modification of prime mountain nyala habitat is believed to have pushed these antelopes to higher elevations than they occupied in the past.

Only male mountain nyala have horns.  A good sized male mountain nyala’s horns will have a bell shaped set of horns with white tips flaring outwards.  The Rowland Ward Trophy Record Book minimum for mountain nyala is 33” and the #1 record is 39½”.  The SCI #1 mountain nyala score is 117”.

The mountain nyala has poorly defined vertical white stripes on its sides’ a white chevron between the eyes and two white patches on its throat. The females are smaller than the males, but have greyish brown coats similar to the males.  Mountain nyala are primarily browsers, although they are known to eat grass on occasions.

Mountain nyala typically live in herds of from 4 – 6 animals.  Larger groups are sometimes observed.  Young bulls typically form loose groups and adult bulls are normally solitary.  Mountain nyala are primarily active at night, but may be seen feeding during the early mornings, late evenings and other periods of low light.  Adult bull nyala are not territorial, but do establish a dominance hierarchy.

Mountain Nyala Hunting Methods

Hunting mountain nyala in Ethiopia is primarily accomplished by using a combination of horse and by hunting on foot.  As mountain nyala are primarily active during low light periods, most hunting will be done in the early mornings and evenings.   Mountain nyala hunting will start on horseback.  Spotting scopes will be used to spot and judge trophy quality.  Areas targeted will primarily be open areas near cover that the mountain nyala come out into to feed.  Once a suitable trophy is spotted, a stalk will commence on foot to attempt to get within shooting range.

Only a handfull of Ethiopian safari operators currently offer hunts for these rare mountain nyala.  A hunt of 15 days is the minimum to be able to take a mountain nyala.  Many Ethiopian hunting safaris are booked for a 21 day duration and hunting for species found down on the plateau may also be included with the longer hunts.

Mountain Nyala Firearms Information

Suggested rifle calibers range from 7mm to the .338 magnum.  Bullet selection should consist of expanding pullets designed for good penetration.  Expect shots to be from 200 yds. to over 400 yds.  Weather varies in the mountains, and a layering system of clothing is best to allow for adjustments to changing conditions.