We’re lucky enough to be interviewing travel and environmental writer Rupi Mangat today in our #MeetTheContributor series. She has written for Kenya’s leading newspaper, Nation, as well as freelance work for the East African on conservation, the arts and culture.
SWARA Magazine has championed environmental and wildlife conservation for over 60 years. The publication has helped shape legislation and policy designed to protect natural resources, galvanised discussion on how best to solve conservation problems and connect networks for advocacy.
— — —
1. What inspired you to get into travel writing as a career?
I love space. Big, beautiful open spaces and Kenya – by extension East Africa – has them. I’m fascinated by the interplay of these natural spaces and the wildlife and landscapes. And travel writing became an extension of that….never static but dynamic, especially in today’s anthropocene age, so much influenced by us.
2) You have obviously travelled far and wide for your work — what are some of your favourite places to visit?
Kenya’s northern arid land and desert. Despite the harsh sun and thorn trees, there is Lake Turkana – the world’s largest permanent lake in a desert that is 250 km long with three stunning islands in it. It is the cradle of human-kind, has forest-decked mountains, ancient rock art, desert people and wildlife.
And then the Pembe island and channel off Tanzania’s coastal shores with secluded islands and blow holes popping up on them full of fresh blue water. The channel still has healthy pods of Spinner, Bottlenose and Humpback dolphins of which so much needs research to ensure their future.
Lake Tanganyika – an inland ocean on whose shores are found the chimpanzees at Gombe national park where Dr Jane Goodall pioneered research on chimpanzees in the 1960s.
And the Volcanoes national park in Rwanda to trek for the silverback gorillas and in the Democratic Republic of Congo to hike for the Grauer’s gorilla, the largest of the apes in Kahuzi-Bega national park.
The list is endless.
3) What is the most important message about wildlife conservation you want to share?
We need to stop destroying or altering natural ecosystems and treating the earth as a dustbin. Those are actually two messages. Earth does not belong to us only but so many more species. We cannot destroy their habitats because we need rare minerals to flash around the latest iPhone…
Everything we use and throw away takes up spaces, ends up somewhere. A prime example – plastic waste is going to be around for hundreds of thousands of years. Burnt or buried or thrown into the ocean it’s going to end up in our food.
4) What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing an article?
To get everyone to read it and take action. Everyone is an environmentalist because the environment is shared by all. So when l write about the coal plant, the so-called green energy and so on, these are topics that have to be written to reach the audience…from the housewife to the industrialist.
5) What has been your favourite contribution to SWARA Magazine?
Hmmm…many….impactful…the coal plant in Lamu that would have destroyed the marine habitat for dolphins, whales, turtles and the reefs and beyond.
6) Do you have any work coming up that you want to tell our readers about?
That will be a surprise…
— — —
Thanks so much for your time Rupi; your passion for your work and the environment shines through.
Digital-only subscriptions to SWARA Magazine, which feature unlimited & fully-searchable access to the modern archive dating back to 2019, are available for individuals and institutions in the Exact Editions online shops.