In 1987 l went to see Omieri the she-python who suddenly shot to fame on account of having being caught in a fire that left her in very bad health. She was coiled lethargic in her glass cage and succumbed to her wounds on 25th June 1987. In the passage of time, l forgot about her.
Fast forward to 27th March 2018.
Thirty years later l’m face-to-face with Omieri again. This time though she’s dead, her long beautifully patterned body in a special glass case and preserved in ethanol. Her burn wound is visible but she’s now a national celebrity on permanent exhibition at the Nairobi Snake Park thanks to a young woman called Diana Injendi.
I’m back with a mission. Staring at the gigantic bare rock face of Iyale, one of the high peaks of the Taita Hills, l’m sizing it up to summit it.
The Taita Hills is the amazing chain of massifs that make the Eastern Arc Mountains made of 13 mountain blocks. The Taita Hills in Kenya is the extreme northern end with the rest in Tanzania. These amazing and ancient forest-capped crystalline mountains are the first massifs to catch the wind-swept ocean breeze off the Indian Ocean.
Above: Grey Crowned Crane on its nest (not in Manguo Swamp because they don’t nest there)
Copyright: International Crane Foundation / Endangered Wildlife Trust Partnership
Published: Saturday magazine, Nation newspaper 31 March 2018
It’s a cold and rainy March morning but some of us need to escape the dull city skies. So meeting the Nature Kenya friends for the regular third Sunday of the month (including Wednesday mornings) that have gone on uninterrupted since the eminent Fleur Ng’weno started them in February 1971, we settle on Manguo Swamp.
The papyrus ruffles in the evening breeze. It is an amazing plant. Ancient Egyptians used it to make their scrolls that today show their ancient past. In terms of eco-services, the papyrus is home to wildlife like fish, birds and hippos. The green plant also stabilizes water levels and moderates temperatures around lakes and rivers. Yet today there’s less than 10 per cent around Lake Naivasha.
Published: Saturday Magazine, Nation newspaper 17 March 2018
Above: The Palace in Gedi Copyright Rupi Mangat
In the eventide, a skein of white wings glide over the blue of Watamu Bay to settle on the huge jagged Hemingway rock. Curious, l zoom in on the birds that appear as dots with the naked eye, l get my shots and send them to the birders.