“Kids” of the Serengeti Plain

Near the center of the African continent sits a vast grassy plain – stretching miles in all directions. The southern part of this plain is situated in Tanzania and is known as the Serengeti Plain. The northern portion is in Kenya and is known as the Masai Mara. This huge area is home to an incredibly proud native population called the Masai. The area derives its name from the Masai language and is called the Masai Mara.

This plain abounds in native African wildlife. Animals seen only in zoos in other parts of the world abound here in their natural habitat. Lions, elephants, zebras, wildebeest – and the list go on and on. Here they roam free, unfettered by wire fences and glass cages. Here the roles – which in other places we consider the norm – are reversed. Here the human observers are housed in a cage – mostly called a truck – and the animals are free to roam, to watch the observers, to wander free and come and go as they please.
We drove in our open-bed truck, watching and logging each sighting. Our driver, in constant contact with other drivers, showed a grin. He turned and told us he had a treat for us. A special event – another driver had radioed in, and we were on our way.

The drive was a short twenty minutes away, about ten to fifteen kilometers I would judge, over grassy plains, away from any form of road. Another similar truck awaited us, and we soon learned why the excitement.

There, lying in the shade of a single acacia tree was a new cheetah family. Mother lay stretched out on

Cheetah mother with four cubs (Acinonyx jubatus) sitting on savannah, Kenya

the grassy knoll and gathered about her were four recently-born cheetah cubs. Mom watched us arrive but didn’t seem overly concerned as we did stay a bit away – perhaps fifteen to twenty meters. The four little cubs rolling on the grass resembled baby house kittens. They clawed and pawed one another, played some new game of “bash your brothers and sisters,” stopping occasionally for refreshments furnished by a proud mommy. She watched them play, and I swear she looked as if she had a gratified look on her face.

We stayed on for a half-hour, caught up in the magic of nature. All the truck passengers had huge smiles on their faces. I couldn’t help but appreciating this rare opportunity afforded us. As we smiled and watched, we became aware of a light humming in the background. Yes – we could actually hear this little melee purr as they moved forward into life’s cycle.

I would have loved to get out and hold one of these little guys, but believe me that would have been suicide. We were all proud parents watching our children grow and play. We were all protective of them up to a point. I felt a strong kinship to this handsome beast and her offspring. We both loved our children very much and wanted only the best for them. After all, “kids is kids.”

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