We speak of animals, mammals, reptiles – the thrill of the hunt – but it is always the ‘real’ hunter who owns the knowledge that creatures should be revered. And they show this nugget of wisdom from when the hunt begins, all the way to when it ends. Although there are many ‘wars’ and ‘beliefs’ over the hunting industry, reverence still comes into play from the savvy hunter who wants to – yes, bring down the prey, but also knows the spectacular awesomeness of that prey that he/she seeks.
There are many legends when it comes to our modern-day species; with some of our most well-known creatures being put on a pedestal a very long time ago by other cultures. So, today we will focus on the ones that are truly outstanding; the ones that stand for the amazing combination of beauty and absolute power.
Elephantoi was the name given to one of the truly favored elephants that once roamed the fields of Mauretania. Although this particular species has since disappeared, African elephants are still a part of our culture, with the African bush elephant and the African forest elephant. ‘Loxodonta’ is the special named given to this existing species and many historians believe that it was an anonymous author, of all things, that chose the name that is used today.
Another beloved creature is the hippopotamus, which was actually named by the Ancient Greeks who found them to be “river horses.” What many may not know is the fact that even though you would assume these mammals were related somehow to the pig family, (well, really big pigs), it is actually the whale that is it’s closest relative on Earth. Of course, they do have a lot in common with their aquatic family, seeing as that they spend most of their time in rivers, lakes and swamps. They are only known to walk the land only when dusk settles over the African desert and they begin to graze. Being one of the most aggressive creatures in the world makes the hippo also one of the most dangerous a person could ever come across.
One of the most revered animals in African culture is also one of the oldest. It is the Hyena that roams the vast tundra and, next to the others in this article, are extremely small. But what they lack for in size they make up for in absolute uniqueness, and they provide benefits that add to the African ecosystem. Similar to dogs, these are true hunters who catch prey with their teeth instead of their claws and they are avid runners, able to make sharp turns and barely ever lose what they’re after. Yes, in most films, the hyena is seen as a coward more than anything else. But in real life, they are not scavengers at all; they actually kill most all the food they eat. And with just a few sounds, they can drive off even a fearsome lioness when they go on their nightly prowl.
One of the most elegant of all creatures is the Giraffe, which Greeks knew only as the ‘camel-leopard.’ The tallest living terrestrial animal, it does actually resemble a camel in both facial features and color. But it is that long and graceful neck that has it revered by many, and to spot these stunning creatures in the savanna or open grassland is a site that you will never forget. Although they are the prey of the most dangerous creatures in Africa, they will always be heralded by our ancients as being far wiser than the rest of us, seeing as that they are ‘closer to the gods’ than anything else.
But when speaking of legends – whether Greek or African – it is the King of all he surveys that is still the grandest sight to behold. Lions are native to both of these lands and people have been heralding them for centuries. The lion is still seen by many to be the ‘seer’ of all, and is the one animal that is found over and over again on cave walls, carvings, statues and more, that the Pharaohs left behind.
Another feline that Ancient Greece believed to be far more regal and mystical than any other, was the leopard. Even though they remain the smallest breed of cat when it comes to the four that make up the ‘Panthera,’ it is the leopard that many Pharaohs believed were actual oracles that could lead them and their people when it came to making choices and defeating their enemies. Unfortunately, much like the hippo, the leopard is decreasing on a daily basis as poachers are not only taking their lives, but also destroying their once serene habitats.
Like its brother, the jaguar, the leopard has fur that’s truly stunning – marked with small rosettes that great philosophers believed made up a map of the real world. And when it runs – it runs…reaching speeds of 58 kilo in what seems like seconds before climbing trees with agility and stealth. From rainforest to desert terrains, this is the cat that anyone from the past will tell you must be learned from.
When it comes to the millions of animal legends, myths and beliefs – everything about these specific creatures that were revered in ancient times can teach the hunter far more than any ‘class’ they could take. Which is exactly why understanding is the key to being the ‘best’ sportsman possible.