A debate has been raging on since two days ago about what animal exactly do Yorùbá refer to as Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn. One thing that amazes me is the number of people that erroneously believe and claim that Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn is leopard. This people gave link to website offering Yoruba names of different animals and lo and behold, it renders Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn as leopard. This site also claims ẹkùn is tiger, an animal that never exist in the whole of Africa and by implication it never exist in Yorùbá land. It translates àjàò as nurctunal animal.
I want to appreciate the brain behind the website but they need to research more and give accurate names of these animals. It also shows that we need a central authority in terms of reference book where we can turn to for accurate Yorùbá names of flora and fauna. An ideal rendition of the animal call “Tiger” by a Yoruba man will likely be “ẹkùn abilà” just as we have adopted “kẹ́tẹ́kẹ́tẹ́ abilà” for zebra.
To this debate I have some responses to make in order to clear the air. First of all, tiger is an Asian animal. What we have here is leopard. Thank God I was born and brought up in rural area and followed elders a little. More, my hometown, Ibese in 1979 became famous when a stray ẹkùn was killed in a farmland near the town by some brave hunters. We have pictures of what Yoruba refers to as Ẹkùn and it is leopard.
Concerning Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn, there is no confusion about it. Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn is cheetah. Yoruba says, “Asunkún pani obìnrin Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn.” This saying draws a comparison between a deceptive woman who can kill her husband even though she will be the first to start crying at the slightest provocation, and Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn with its two black stripes on its face resembling black tears streaming down its cheek.
The comparison also fits perfectly because of the sleeky shape of Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn (compared to the robust shape of leopard) which Yoruba must have regarded as prominent feminine feature.
More, cheetah is common in Africa and in Yorùbá land. The colonialists recorded it was a common site in Ilorin then.
Now, back to operation Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn, either by fortuity or deliberate design, those who came up with the name seem to have hit the perfect spot. I won’t say more, but in the picture below is Àmọ̀tẹ́kùn.