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South Africa’s National Symbols

Countries have national symbols to show the world that it is a national community. National symbols are used to unite people by using pictorial representations such as animals and flowers to reflect the country’s values, goals, or history. You will often see them used in sport’s events or other patriotic celebrations. Below are South Africa’s National Symbols.

South Africa’s National Animal

The animal chosen to represent South Africa is the Springbok. In fact the South African rugby team is called the ‘Springboks’, locally known as ‘the bokke’. The Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) gets its common name from the way it jumps and springs around. It is extremely fast and reaches speeds of 100km/hour and leaps as high as 4 metres. When a male Springbok wants to show off its strength to attract a mate, or to ward off predators, he trots with his legs stiff off the ground and jumps high into the air and arches his back – a very amusing display to see!

Springboks live in dry, barren areas and open grass plains, such as the Free State, North West and Karoo. It is often that you will see a Springbok on an African safari, and hopefully you can see them springing around and ‘strutting their stuff’!


The Springbok (Image)

South Africa’s National Bird

The Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradisia) has been chosen for this title, probably due to the fact that they reside almost entirely to the country. They are about a metre tall and a beautiful shade of light blue-grey, with a long neck and a rather large head. Their legs are long and spindly with elegant wing plumes which sweep along the ground. They are very graceful birds. You will find them in the Karoo, the grasslands of KwaZulu-Natal and the Highveld. Occasionally you will hear a distinctive high-pitched and rattling croak which can be heard from some distance, the call of the Blue Crane.


The Blue Crane (Image)

South Africa’s National Flower

The beautiful and wild-growing King Protea (Protea cynaroides) takes this honour. It has a very large flower head with large petals and can be seen in a variety of colours. The King Protea is the largest of the Proteas. It is distributed in the south-western and southern areas of the Western Cape. South Africa’s national cricket team are called ‘The Proteas’.


The King Protea (Image)

South Africa’s National Fish

Yes, there is even a national fish – the Galjoen (Dichistius capensis). The Galjoen was chosen as the country’s national fish because it is only found along the coast from Namibia to Durban, and nowhere else in the world. The Galjoen changes colour, depending on where it is swimming. Near rocks it is almost completely black, while in sandy areas the colour changes to silver-bronze. Anglers love to catch this fish and it known as a game fighter.

                 The Galjoen (Image)

South Africa’s National Tree

Last, but not least is South Africa’s National Tree – the Yellowwood tree. The Yellowwood family has been growing in this part of Africa for over 100- million years. The real Yellowwood (Podocarpus latifolius), South Africa’s national tree, is found on Table Mountain, along the southern and eastern Cape coast, and in the valleys of the Drakensberg up to Soutpansberg and Blouberg in Limpopo.

These trees can grow up to 40m in height with the base of the trunk being about 3m in diameter. The Yellowwood tree is a protected species. The bark of the Yellowwood is khaki-coloured and almost grey when it is old, and the bark peels off in strips. The Yellowwood is one of South Africa’s most valuable timber trees.


The Yellowwood Tree (Image)

(Featured image)

About Bronwyn Paxton

Article by: Bronwyn Paxton
on May 5, 2014
Filed under  Africa Blog • South Africa 
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