Tag Archives: Nyala

Satara Summer 2021 – Mingling with Antelope

The Kruger National Park is home to 21 different kinds of antelope – more than any other protected area in our country. Along with zebras and warthogs they form the staple prey for the majority of the large predators in the Park.

The Satara area of the park, which we visited in December 2021, hosts the largest concentrations of Blue Wildebeest in Kruger. Most Wildebeest calves are born at this time of the year, when the summer rains bring a flush of green fodder for the lactating cows.

Bushbuck aren’t seen around Satara all that often; the veld is generally too open for their liking in this part of the Park and any sightings are likely to be along the stream courses where the riverine vegetation provides the cover and browse they need.

The S36 road linking Satara and Orpen to the picnic spots at Muzandzeni and Nhlanguleni is usually reliable for finding Common Duikers, and if you are lucky these shy little antelope may stand still for a second or two so you can take a picture.

It is a real pity that the Impala is so numerous in Kruger that most visitors seem to not even spare them a second glance. They are actually really athletic and beautiful antelope.

Joubert got these photographs of two impala rams sparring.

The birth of Impala lambs are timed to occur en masse at the end of November and into early December. The lambs congregate into a “creche” within the herd when they’re at rest, but can often be seen running and chasing each other around – seems they have boundless energy.

In the evening of the 31st of December, along the Sweni Road (S126), we encountered a huge herd of Impalas. They were on the move, relinquishing the open plain where they were feeding for denser bush in which to spend the night. We spent several minutes with the herd as they walked off until the whole plain was abandoned.

Owing to the general scarcity of suitable rocky habitats around Satara, our only Klipspringer sighting of the entire 3 weeks we spent in that part of the Kruger Park was at an outcrop to the south of Tshokwane.

Three Klipspringers near Tshokwane

The open, thorny savanna around Satara supports a high density of the magnificent Greater Kudu and they can easily be seen along any of the roads that radiate from the camp.

By contrast, the Nyala is rarely encountered in this part of the Park and while they’re sometimes seen along the course of the Nwaswitsontso River south of Satara we had to go north to the banks of the Olifants River this time around to see this impressive bull.

Nyala bull

The Steenbok is the small antelope seen most often around Satara – they find the open grasslands perfectly to their liking.

The less I say about the expression on these Steenbokkies’ faces after mating, the better probably…

The Tsessebe is one of the rarest antelope in the Kruger National Park, and is not found near Satara. We undertook a day’s outing north to the Mopani area of the Park specifically to go looking for them, and luckily did not return to Satara with nothing to show for our effort.

Another large antelope you would defnitely encounter when visiting Satara is the Waterbuck. They’re quite numerous along the courses of the Nwanetsi and Gudzani streams to the east of the camp.

Nyala

Tragelaphus angasii

The graceful nyala is one of our favourite antelope, and a close relative of the kudu. They occur naturally in the south-east corner of Africa, ranging from Malawi to South Africa’s eastern provinces.

To the uninitiated, the adult bulls in their dark, shaggy, coats and the ewes dressed in bright chestnut seem to be from two different species altogether. Bulls are almost double the size of the ewes, and can weigh up to 130kg.

Nyalas inhabit thickets and woodland near water, and will often forage in adjacent clearings. They’re mixed feeders, subsisting on a diet of leaves, succulent shoots and short grass.

Being social animals, nyalas occur in small groups consisting mostly of adult females and their offspring, with adult males tending to form bachelor groups. Lambs are born at any time of the year, though mostly in the wetter summer months.

The stiff-legged dominance display – you could even call it a dance! – of the adult bulls is one of nature’s most intriguing spectacles.

The bulls also have the curious habit of horning the ground at mud puddles, carrying the caked mud off with them on their headdress…

The IUCN consider the nyala’s conservation status to be of “least concern“, with a population of at least 32,000. The best places in South Africa to see these graceful antelope is the Kruger National Park (especially at Pafuri in the far north of the Park), Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, uMkhuze Game Reserve, and Tembe Elephant Park, though they occur in a number of other state and private reserves as well.

uMkhuze Game Reserve’s Kumasinga Hide is one of the very best places to watch Nyala behaviour.