It was a beautiful spring day. The
butterflies were fluttering about, the ants were busy carrying bits of
leaves and twigs, and the termites were deep underground, digging tunnels
and building their mounds. Tabansi was strolling across the savanna,
enjoying the puffy white clouds that floated across the azure sky. He
passed a herd of wildebeest. They were grazing on the tall grasses. Zebras
ran past. Tabansi looked at their stripes and then at the patchwork of
color on his body. He knew he was a handsome giraffe, much better looking
than the zebras. A few elephants were tearing leaves from the baobab
trees. Tabansi laughed when he saw a baby elephant holding onto his
motherís tail, running along behind her.
The bushes were full of lush green
leaves. There were many insects buzzing about. Tabansi stopped near a
flowering plant and started to nibble on its delicate petals. As he was
nibbling away he sensed something behind him. "Whoís there?" he asked,
turning toward the bushes. "Is it you, Jelani? Safiya, are you playing a
trick on me? Pemba, are you and the other ants trying to frighten me?"
There was no answer. Thinking it must have been his imagination, Tabansi
continued eating the leaves.
Razi, a lion, was watching the
giraffe from behind the bushes. He was feeling hungry and his mouth
drooled over thoughts of eating the giraffe. "It is rather big," Razi
whispered. "I donít think I can bring him down all by myself." Razi ran
off to the pride and whispered to Karimah, "Thereís a giraffe behind those
boulders. I canít bring him down by myself. If you come and help me, weíll
share the kill."
Karimah followed Razi through the
grass. They stopped and peeked out from behind the bushes. "He is huge. I
donít think just two of us can bring that giraffe down. Why donít you go
and get Jabari. Iíll stay here and keep my eye on him," Karimah said. Razi
ran back to the pride.
"Whoís there? I know something is in
those bushes. Are you sure itís not you, Safiya?" the giraffe gulped. He
was starting to get nervous.
Karimah had always liked giraffes.
They seemed so graceful to her. She stepped out from behind the bushes.
"Donít be afraid. I wonít hurt you," she said.
Tabansi was terrified. "Youíre a
lion. Lions eat giraffes. Why shouldnít I be afraid?"
"Raziís gone back to the pride to
get another lion. They want you for lunch," Karimah said.
"What? They want to eat me? Do you
want to eat me too?" Tabansi asked.
"Iím full from breakfast. I had a
delicious meerkat. Weíve got to get you out of here before they come back.
Follow me," Karimah said.
She started to run. Tabansi
followed. His legs were much longer, so it was easy for him to keep up
with her. He was surprised when she ran into a cave. "Weíre going into a
cave?" Tabansi asked.
"Itís the only safe place for you
right now. The ceiling is tall enough for you to stand comfortably. Stay
here. Iím going back to the pride to tell them youíre gone," Karimah said
and ran off, leaving the frightened giraffe alone.
An hour later the lion came back.
"You can go now. They werenít happy that you had disappeared but they
seemed to cheer up when a wildebeest walked by on its way to the river."
Tabansi left the cave and walked
beside his new friend. "Thank you, Karimah. You saved my life."
"Everyone needs a friend," she said
and sprinted across the savanna to where the other lions were.