Watamu Turtle Watch: A Hawksbill in the Spotlight

From my archives in April 2007

In 1997 ‘Watamu Turtle Watch’ was launched. It still operates under Local Ocean Conservation today.

A whole load of journalists descend on this one little turtle happily snoozing under his shaded spot in the pool.  All we can see of this star-to-be-soon turtle are his flippers sticking out from the slab of stone that he’s resting under.

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Hawksbill Turtle: Facebook: Local Ocean Conservation

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Searching for the skulls caves in Taita Hills

Published: 12 May 2018 Saturday Nation magazine Nation newspaper, Kenya

Above: Taita Hills – the magical mist mountains – copyright Rupi Mangat

The plan is to enjoy the indigenous forest of Vuria. I have no intention of puffing up to the peak which is the highest of the Taita Hills and the highest point at the coast reaching 2,228 metres (7,310 ft). But we lose the group in the forest. Trying to find it, we’re on the peak a few hours later, looking at the plains below. The mission was to search for the legendary skull caves of the Taita people.

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City Breaks

Above: Black rhino and her calf in Nairobi National Park with Nairobi city in the horizon.
Copyright Rupi Mangat

Published Nation Newspaper – Saturday magazine – 21 November 1998

The Nairobi National Park – a rare place where modern skyscrapers brush shoulders with the creatures of the wild

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Space, beauty, vast savanna in Nairobi city in the horizon. Copyright Rupi Mangat

The uninterrupted flow of the sky, the wide open space, the grass carpet on the savannah, the unexpected thrill of seeing a wild animal – it’s all so fascinating. So it never fails to amaze me when someone remarks, “We never saw anything at the Nairobi National Park.” How on earth can anyone say that? But l guess for a lot of people the idea of a national park is a place teeming with wild animals where drama is the order of the day, where the glossy brochure lion strides majestically across the plains, where the cheetah sprints at full throttle and where eagles soar in the sky. Fed up with such stories from the array of glossy holiday brochures and coffee table books showcasing the models of the wild, it’s not hard to imagine why so many people expect to find things like they do in a shopping mall – where whatever you want to buy or see is where it always is. We are used to the expected, and so when we visit the national park, the animals must be all there for us! But national parks aren’t zoos – you don’t go from one cage to the next, where neat little signs tell you what animal you are looking at. The national park is about the unexpected – you go there as a guest to experience the grand spectacle of life. And that is what Nairobi National Park is all about. Continue reading “City Breaks”

Nairobi Snake Park

Face- to-face with Omieri again

Above: Omieri the African rock python in her new glass cage. Notice the burn mark on exreme right that she received in 1987 – which led to her death.
Copyrigt Rupi Mangat

Published: Saturday Magazine Nation newspaper 14 April 2018

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.

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Nestled in Naivasha

Published: Saturday magazine, Nation newspaper 24 March 2018

Above: Hippos ashore. Copyright Rupi Mangat

It’s late returning to Nairobi from upcountry. We find a campsite to spend the night on the fringes of the freshwater Lake Naivasha, the highest of the Great Rift Valley lakes in Kenya. There’s just enough daylight for a walk around the papyrus-lined shore with the hippos honking, preparing to come ashore to dine for the night.

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.

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