The Big Five is the common wish list of wildlife tourists which include the Lion, Buffalo, Elephant, Rhino and Leopard.
The tourist fascination with these is just but a glimpse to the special place these animals hold in Africa's cultural heritage.
The Big Five are part of the totem tradition in Africa and have also a significance in its festivities through carvings that are worn during traditional ceremonies.
Several African tribes believe wearing animal carvings on their masks will improve their communication with animal spirits who live in the desert or wooded areas. Interested in what each animal symbolizes?The Lion
The Lion is probably the most noble of the Big Five, it's spiritual significance encompasses a range of noble characteristics. Carrying himself like a Regal or Mighty King, it's easy to see why he is identified with loyalty, courage, strength and pride.
The Lioness, his formidable counterpart is a representation of prowess and sisterhood. Quite evident in how the lioness moves in packs and executes her hunting, she is the true symbol of intelligent coordination.
Did you know that not a single leopard spot is exactly the same?
The leopard is known as the Great Watcher, and is a symbol for cunning, agility, and ferocity. The leopard is highly revered in African cultures as a master hunter due to it’s secrecy and mystery.
Leopards have always been associated with royalty and kingship. You could see many portraits of African chiefs or kings wearing leopard fur, as a symbol of their rank and position. Leopard hunt is forbidden in most of African countries today.The African Elephant
It's not only it's sheer size that will take your breathe, you will find yourself captured by the grace with which the herd moves along, the calm with which it drinks from the watering hole and the beauty of it's mid washed skin on an African sunrise.
The African Elephant speaks to us in terms of sensitivity, loyalty and determination. The elephant is often seen as a superior guide when we are on a journey that requires our patience and devotion.
Symbolizing good luck, especially when the trunk is pointed upwards, the elephant also represents wisdom, maternal strength, and longevity.The Rhino
Such a mammoth creature should fill you with fear and alarm, but the rhinoceros symbolism is replete with contradictions. In some cultures, it is viewed as softness and kindness masked behind an aggressive nature.
While they seem aggressive on the outside, rhinos have been known to be calm, peaceful and quiet.
Monoliths adorning the central courts of nineteenth-century Tswana towns, as well as the walls or courts of Zimbabwe culture and Venda capitals, most probably signified rhino horns. Thereby, architecturally encapsulating the key qualities of power, danger and protection traditionally associated with African leadership.The Buffalo
The African Cape Bufallo is known to be deadly and has a few predators aside from lions and large crocodiles.
It's confrontational nature, especially in solitary bulls represents courage and the willingness to never back away from a challenge.
Buffalos as a totem represent stability and a need to be in a stable environment. Buffalos are known to move in search for greener pastures and migrate when resources run out in a place. Therefore, they are perceived as movers and always seek to have abundance around them.
Header Image Credit: Standard Kenya