The leopard, known as the Great Watcher in many African cultures, is a symbol of nobility and courage. In ancient times, ‘The Leopard’ was a title bestowed upon a courageous king. And in the Zulu culture, leopard skins are still reserved for royalty. It is also the most secretive and arguably one of the most beautiful of the big cats.
Many African tribes believe that the leopard is a guide for the spirit of the dead, helping them find their resting place. Traditional healers also believe them to have magical powers.
The leopard has been the subject of many myths and folklore legends as to how it got its spots. Perhaps the best remembered is the fable about how the leopard looked ‘like a sunflower against a tarred fence’ when he entered the forest from the veld. A kind Ethiopian painted the beautiful five-dotted rosettes onto his skin to help him blend into his forest surroundings.