The Mountain nyala is an antelope that can be found only in a small part of central Ethiopia. Its coat is grey to brown in color, marked with two to five poorly defined white strips extending from the back to the underside, and a row of six to ten white spots. White markings are present on the face, throat, and legs as well. The sensitive ears of these antelopes are large and lined with white hair. Males have a short dark erect crest, about 10 cm (3.9 in) high, running along the middle of the back. Only males possess horns with only one or two spirals; their horns may grow up to 188 cm (74 in) in length.
Mountain nyala are native to the Ethiopian highlands east of the Rift Valley. They inhabit montane woodlands and often visit the edges of montane grasslands.
Mountain nyala are shy and elusive animals, especially towards human beings. They spend the night on the edges of forests, feeding part of the time. To avoid human disturbance, they choose to navigate at night. They come out in the morning and late afternoon to browse in grasslands. They generally seek cover in woodlands and heather thickets when it is very hot or cold. They tend to come out when it is overcast or raining. In the dry season which occurs between November and March nyala travel up to the wooden areas that are rich in ericaceous heath. These antelopes usually congregate in small groups of 4-5 individuals for short intervals of time to form small herds. Female and juvenile groups have adult females accompanied by a calf of her previous year and another of the current year. Bachelor herds are formed by non-dominant adult bulls and young males, consisting of up to 13 individuals. Old bulls tend to lead a solitary life, though they may occasionally visit female herds. Males are not territorial. Though usually silent, Mountain nyala may "cough" noticing a potential threat, or utter a low bark if the threat is more serious.
Mountain nyala are herbivorous (folivorous, graminivorous) animals. They are primarily browsers but may switch to grazing occasionally. They feed on low-height herbs, bushes, shrubs, and general foliage. They might even eat lichens, ferns, and aquatic plants. Grasses are especially preferred during the early wet season. They pick up fallen leaves and use their horns to reach higher branches.
Mountain nyala are polygynous meaning that they don't form pairs and males mate with more than one female. These antelopes breed throughout the year, but the peak usually occurs in December. During the breeding season there to four males may seek a single female, and, if equally ranked in the hierarchy, they may engage in circling displays. In these displays, the males move very slowly and stiffly, with the crest on the back erect and the tail raised. They do not engage in aggressive fights, and if they happen, they last only for a brief period. After the gestation period of 8 to 9 months, the females give birth to a single calf. Newly born calves remain in cover for the first few weeks after birth and then remain close to their mothers for nearly 2 years. The young females may get pregnant by then. The young males, as they mature by 2 years, are challenged by other males and driven out of their herds.
Major threats to the survival of the Mountain nyala include illegal hunting, habitat destruction, encroachment by livestock, predation of calves by dogs, expansion of montane cultivation, and construction at high altitudes. The animal is extensively hunted for its horns and meat.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Mountain nyala is 1,500-2,500 mature individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.