Safari luck!...A sighting we've awaited for 13 months...What a way to start a new day!...


When friends Lois and Tom visited for three weeks in October, we spotted the nyala crossing the road from a distance but never were able to get a decent photo.  From there we searched daily hoping to spot it again.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Once the kudus began to walk away, the nyala followed behind.  Perhaps, he's spending a lot of time with them.
A short time after we arrived in Marloth Park last year on February 11, 2018, we'd heard a lot about the lone nyala in the park from our friends.  Some had lived here 10 years or more and had never seen it and others had seen it more than once.

With our usual safari luck, we expected to see it and be able to take a decent photo to share here.  But, as time went on we decided it would be unlikely we'd see one animal among so many based on the massive size of Marloth Park at 3000 hectares, 7413 acres.

When friends Lois and Tom stayed with us for three weeks in October, we'd hoped to spot it while they were here.  We almost accomplished this when we saw him at a distance, crossing a dirt road near the Crocodile River. 
Tom opened the big doors to the house this morning to find this stunning surprise, the elusive Marloth Park male Nyala hanging out with two male kudus, one female kudu, and one female bushbuck.  What a fabulous surprise! 
We all jumped out of the car hoping to take a photo as he made his way deep into the bush but alas, he disappeared in seconds.  Friend Tom scrambled directly into the bush to attempt a photo but no such luck.

We resigned ourselves to the fact that it would be unlikely we'd see it again during our remaining time in the bush.  Had my recent bypass surgery not transpired, we'd never have had today's sighting.  We would have been long gone.

But now, as I recover a little more each day, this morning's sighting in our garden we were overcome with joy and gratefulness.  Plus, for some odd reason, this felt like a good omen for health and healing for which we've become more optimistic each day.  
We've spent endless hours driving through Marloth Park in search of this stunning member of the antelope family. 
Finally, two weeks after returning from the hospital, I'm beginning to notice improvements each day.  Yesterday, on our 24th wedding anniversary, I made Tom an apple crumble, one of his favorite desserts, warmed and served with an ample dollop of vanilla ice cream.  

Based on its sugar content, I didn't have any of the crumble but continued to savor one of the last few pieces of low carb cheesecake.  Tom peeled the apples (we saved the peels for the kudus which they love) while I put together the remaining ingredients.  It made me smile to see him practically moaning over each bite.

Since my surgery, Tom had lost five kgs (11 pounds) and deserved a sweet treat.  Ironically, he lost more weight than my measly two kgs (4.2 pounds).  Surely, the stress and loss of appetite have impacted both of us.  
There are some similarities in appearance between the nyala and the kudu.  But, the coloration of the hair, the long beard and the pattern on the legs are quite unique.  Females do not have horns and are much smaller.
By making the low carb pie for me and the apple crisp for Tom, we would avoid losing more weight.  Finally, I stopped losing and now with this dessert, Tom will do the same.  It feels so good to have a dessert in the evening, comforting especially after all of our attention has been focused on me getting well.

Anyway, back to the nyala...when opening the two massive wooden doors this morning while I was up, showered and dressed, Tom whispered, "Hurry, get the camera. It's the nyala."

And indeed it was.  I positioned myself at a chair by the table to steady myself since my arms are still too weak the hold the camera up in the air, positioning my elbows for steadiness and accuracy.  In my usual overly enthusiastic manner, I struggled to keep from shaking while I took the photos.  I did the best I could and wasn't unhappy with the results.
From left to right, two kudus, one bushbuck (by the cement pond) and the elusive nyala to the far right.
The scene before our eyes of the lone nyala, three kudus (two males, one female) and the single pretty bushbuck was a scene we'll never forget...pure heaven, here on Earth.

Here are some nyala facts from this Kruger National Park site:

"Name

Nyala [Nyala angasii or Tragelaphus angasii]

Appearance

The handsome slate-brown shaggy coat is marked with white vertical stripes and spots on the flanks. Rams appear more charcoal-grey in color. The rams have long inward curved horns (650 mm) and a white chevroned face. They have a ridge of long hairs along the underparts, from behind the chin to between the hind legs, they also have a mane of thick, black hair from the head along the spine to the rump. Rams weigh 115 Kg and measure 1.05 m at shoulders. Ewes are much smaller and do not have horns, and weigh 59 Kg and stand 900mm at shoulders. Ewes are chestnut-coated with even more prominent white stripes on the flanks.
He looked healthy and well fed.  Surely, when he occasionally visits the garden of a bush home with residents aware of his arrival, he is fed plenty of pellets along with the lush greenery, since the rains, in Marloth Park.
Diet
This antelope feeds by both grazing and browsing and will readily feed on leaves, fruit, and flowers. This variety in their diet is one of the factors ensuring their successful survival.

Breeding

They breed throughout the year, but mating peaks in autumn and spring. Single calves are born after a gestation period of 220 days. Twins are not uncommon. Ewes first conceive between 14 to 18 months. Average interval between births is 297 days. Mating opportunities for rams are decided through dominance behavior.

Behavior

An interesting fact is that juvenile males look like females. It is thought that this camouflages the young males and protects them from the jealous eyes of the dominant bulls. The young males are therefore allowed to grow up peacefully under the protection of the herd.

They appeared to get along quite well with the kudus as they shared pellets we'd tossed.
Habitat
This rather large antelope inhabits dense woodlands and thickets along permanent water. It is very secretive and more easily seen at night. Nyala is non-territorial, but both sexes have overlapping home ranges. The home ranges of ewes are twice the size than that of rams.

Where they are found

As a result of translocation, nyalas are found in a number of game reserves and private farms throughout South Africa. They are most numerous in the Kruger National Park.


Vital Statistics
Latin Name
Tragelaphus Angasii
Weight (Female)
55 - 68 kg
Weight (Male)
92 - 126 kg
Gestation Period
8 months
No of Young
1 calf
Birth Weight
5 kg
Order
Artiodactyla
Family
Bovidae
Horns
64 cm (record - 84 cm)
Breeding
A single young is born anytime during the year (peaks in August - December), gestation period ± 7 months.

Spoor Description

The fore-feet of the males are relatively broader than those of the females. Adult males are also larger than and shared females."

Ms. Bushbuck kept a close eye on the pellets wondering if she could squeeze in for a few.  We made sure she had plenty as well.
What a great start to our day!  What's on the agenda for today?  More rest, more walking, more good food and more of the loving care that has been so instrumental in my continuing recovery. 

Thanks to our readers for your ongoing love and support, anniversary wishes and wise experience from those who've been where I am now and have healed and gone on to live a full and fulfilling life.
He ate a few pellets but didn't seem that interested in them.  Most likely, he's getting plenty of nourishment from the lush bush.
Happy day!
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Photo from one year ago, March 8, 2018:
In the yard, there's a fenced-in garden intended to protect some vegetation.  Ha!  the monkeys have no trouble crawling inside and making a mess.  These vervet monkeys are fun to watch with their playful antics but annoying and destructive.  For more photos, please click here.

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