In the diverse African cultures and tribes, it is believed that the Leopard is the King of the Jungle, not the Lion as it has been believed from time immemorial. The lion is seen as the king of the jungle because of its strength and ability to roar.
It has been a western misconception, the lion is known to have the loudest roars of all animals and when it hunts, it charges forward because of the confidence it has in its strength. The western world believes the lion to be the most deadly predator among other animals, but the people in Africa have a different belief.
In Africa, the lion is seen as a lazy hunter, as they often hunt in packs and are never alone like other wild cats in the jungle. Also, the lion does not live in the rainforest or the jungle, it lives in the savannah.
Africans believe the leopard to be rather more powerful than the lion and have more for them because although it is smaller in size compared to the lion, the leopard has great strength for hunting alone.
The secret of killing a lion was revealed when a lion approached a hunter with a big shield and the hunter fell to the ground and covered himself with the shield. The lion stood wondering where the hunter went, and with that other hunters in hiding jumped on it and killed it.
With the leopard it is different, the leopard is much harder to kill because it is much smarter than the lion, as it attacks from all directions. The leopard is stronger when hunting down animals no matter the animal’s size as it is more skillful in hunting and brilliance.
This is why most African rulers, kings, princes, warriors, and priests wear leopard skin instead of lion skin, as the leopard skin symbolizes strength, courage, and royalty.
For example, in the Zulu tribe of South Africa, the Zulu King wears leopard skin as a symbol of nobility, courage and honor. The leopard is the ceremonial attire for the Zulu Royalty. It is an iconic symbol in Zulu culture. A man dressed in a traditional leopard ‘pelt’ or ‘amambatha’ (as referred to Zulu), is easily recognized as Zulu. They believe that the ‘ingwe’ – leopard is blessed with special powers but the power does not come from the skin itself, it comes from the tradition where the King used to give a leopard skin as a reward.
Also it was extremely privileged to be given one by the king, and traditionally he was the only person that was allowed to issue them.