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Why African Antelopes do NOT have white in their eyes

Updated: Dec 4, 2022

"Oh no, did we really mount this Nyala? What is wrong with the eyes? It's looking in all directions?" this was the only thought that came to mind while looking at a Nyala Shoulder mount hanging on my friend's wall.

(Photo of the Nyala shoulder mount with the white Sclera)

Last week I visited an old friend at his house, and I noticed a Nyala Shoulder mount on his wall, one of the first we've mounted. I guess it might have been in 2007 not really sure when but it sure was a long time ago around and about the time we opened our Taxidermy in the Limpopo province.

Knowing that the Nyala mount is more or less 15 years old, I was pretty impressed with the total quality of the skin. The piece didn't look old at all but the eyes; why did we think this Nyala's eyes were good to go?

I had a hard time following the conversation between myself and my friend because the Nyala was hanging on the wall right over my friend's right shoulder. It made it hard not to look at this Nyala's eyes.

I decided to drop the bomb and told my friend that the eyes of the Nyala we've mounted were wrong. It bothers me so much that I can not even listen to a word he is saying. My friend then replied and said that he couldn't see anything wrong with the Nyalas eyes and that he thought it looked great, so I started to explain to him why the eyes were terrible. This led me to believe that maybe I must write a blog about this to educate other hunters.

(Photo of the Nyala shoulder mount with the white Sclera)

Before I continue, I would like to give my sincere gratitude to all the friends who allowed me to mount their trophies at the beginning of Trophex Taxidermy's existence. If it wasn't for them, we would not have been where we are today.

In this case, just looking at this Nyala, I realized just how far we came to be one of the finest taxidermies in South Africa.

I remember my intention was always to give the best product to the customer. To do this, I need to use the best products available. So I only settled for top world-class eyes imported from the US for the eyes. These glass eyes had more detail with a white base to represent the Sclera part of the eye, making it look a lot more realistic.

When mounting something like this Nyala, the taxidermist wants to make sure that one can see the white Sclera of the eye. Because we thought it would give us an edge over our competition. Silly me used these eyes revealing a little bit of the white Sclera as a unique selling point. Fortunately, we've learned that it doesn't look natural with our African Antelope.

(Real Nyala - not showing white Sclera)

Let me explain. Then you can use this information to help you in the future to choose the right Taxidermy in South Africa to mount your African Trophies.

Yes, any African Antelope's eye has a Pupil, Iris, and a white Sclera. Therefore, it makes sense that a small part of the Sclera should be visible in the front of the eye and at the backside of the eye. This is true, but if you look closely, You will notice that a dark (black) membrane covers the Sclera. Therefore, the white Sclera is not visible in the front part of our African Antilope's eyes. Furthermore, the eyelids also cover the white Sclera totally at the back of the eye.

(Real Nyala - not showing white Sclera)

The mount doesn't look natural when showing a little bit of the white Sclera. However, I've noticed a more significant problem that actually is probably the one that bothers me the most. When the taxidermist tries to show a little of the white Sclera, the eyes tend to look sideways or, in severe cases, even backwords as if it is running away. It can create a cartoon-like look as if the animal saw the bullet coming.

An antelope shoulder mount without displaying the white Sclera in the eyes will look more natural. The eyes will actually look lifelike and alive. More importantly, it will look in the right direction.

(Nyala shoulder mount - with no white Sclera by Trophex Taxidermy)

You will also notice that I am always just talking about our African Antelopes. This is because, with other species like the Cape Buffalo, the Sclera is indeed visible, but let's leave the Buffalo mount and its eyes for a different blog post in the future.

I hope this will help you look at the detail of our African Antelope mounts.

I, for one, will now need to find a way to avoid getting distracted by that Nyala shoulder mount on my next visit to my friend :)

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