Socotra Island, Yemen’s gem !

An island of extreme beauty but somewhat isolated from the rest of the world… that is Socotra Island in Yemen, Middle East.

Justifying its crude beauty, the name of the island is believed to come from Sanskrit word ‘dvipa sakhadara’, meaning – ‘Island of Bliss’.

This is actually a chain of islands… consisting of the main island – Socotra, three smaller islands of Abd al Kuri, Samhah and Darsa and, small rock outcrops like Ka’l Fir’awn and Sabuniyah, which are uninhabitable by humans.

Socotra island group has a fairly rich bird fauna, including a few types of endemic birds. However the only mammals native to these isles are bats. On the contrary, the marine biodiversity around Socotra is rich, characterized by a unique mixture of species that have originated in far-flung biogeographic regions.

Perhaps, the most striking plant in Socotra is the dragon’s blood tree, which is a strange-looking, umbrella-shaped tree. Its red sap was the dragon’s blood of the ancients …  sought after as a medicine and a dye.

Another unusual plant here is Dorstenia gigas …

Socotra is considered the “jewel of biodiversity” in the Arabian sea. Surveys have revealed that more than a third of the 800 or so plant species of Socotra are found nowhere else. Botanists rank the flora of Socotra among the ten most endangered island flora in the world. Overall this island-chain is a site of global importance for biodiversity conservation and a possible center for ecotourism.

This isle beauty was also recognized by the UNESCO as a world natural heritage site, in 2008.

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