Know Your Antelope

know your antelope

How do I tell the difference between a Nyala , Waterbuck, and a Kudu?

The Kudu, Nyala, and Waterbuck are antelope both found in South Africa.  They have similarities, especially  in the females, but once you know the differentiating features, you can quickly tell them apart.  Here are some images to help you learn each species.

We see a variety of large and small antelope on my photos safaris in South Africa. The Kudu, Waterbuck, and Nyala are most commonly sighted species.

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Kudu and Nyala

male nyala
Male nyala

A nyala ram is shorter and smaller with a darker color than the kudu. Both animals have a shag and hump along with similar face markings below the eyes, but the nyala’s hump is smaller and the overall size difference is distinctive.

The male kudu has a pronounced hump  and a smaller amount of back fringe but is taller and heavier plus lighter in color.

Male Kudu
Full size male kudu
male nyala
The male Nyala horns have a broader, less tight single spiral which then grows straight and ends in white tips.
male kudu photographed on a photo safari
A male kudu browsing trees
Kudu Male horns
Kudu horns grow in multiple spirals

Kudu browse trees and can reach high branches. They tilt their heads back which allows the horns to lay flat against their backs and free from entangling in the trees.

female nyala
female or juvenile nyala
female kudu eating
Female kudu browsing trees
female kudu
Female Kudu face

Both male and female have the same basic body shape.  The female is a bit lighter coloration.

Water Buck

Waterbuck are found close to water and differ in body shape than the lighter built kudu and nyala. they have no fringe or hump. Males and female have the same backing body shape.

male waterbuck horns
male waterbuck face

The male’s horns are straight with the tips pointing up.  They have ridges ringing them. They continue to grow up and out.  Both male and female have the white, round “toilet seat”  marking on their rear and white markings on the brow ridge of their eyes.

male waterbuck rear markings
Male waterbuck rear markings
female waterbuck
Female waterbuck

It is fun to identify and “collect” the many antelope species while on one of my safaris. Myself, our safari drivers and trackers all help educate our guests and spot the many wildlife species.