Raising awareness of Socotra’s Egyptian Vultures and unique wildlife
A guest blog from Ali Yahya A. Mahroos on behalf of the Socotra UNE-GEF team
Socotra is a wonderful and unique island and we have been lucky to have a conservation programme that has been supported by United Nation Environment and the Global Environment Facility (UNE-GEF), the Environment Protection Authority and the Socotra Wildlife Association.
For the last two Septembers we have been able to celebrate International Vulture Awareness Day with a generous grant from OSME. Socotra has a population of nearly 2,000 Egyptian Vultures – probably the largest concentration in the world of this Endangered species. We wanted to tell the people of Socotra how lucky they are to have this bird breeding on our remote island.
This autumn as well as the Vulture Day we held three training days for eco-tour guides. These were opened by deputy governor of Socotra and many local authority leaders and officials attended. Those joining us included the Tourism Police, local travel and tour agencies, hotels, the Culture Office and many young people. The activity received a wide media coverage at both local and national levels.
During these training days team members delivered talks on the unique
Biodiversity of our protected areas, our endemic birds and our special Egyptian
Vultures and eco-tourism concepts. We also took field visits to Sirhen and Qaria lagoons to watch birds.
Other events in September included workshops on plastic recycling (plastic waste and how to recycle) and drawing birds. These were attended by 20 students from Hadibu and Qalansiyah towns.
In the drawing competition the students were given a week to draw and recycle the plastic waste into artwork and we then judged the best. Several awards and certificates were given to school children who did the best artwork.
There was much concern and activity over plastic waste and our awareness events were attended by a number of officials, the local community, the women’s sector and young people. We had lectures and videos about the negative impact of plastics and carried out plastic waste clearance in a number of areas.
We were pleased that our events were in collaboration with the Environment Protection Authority, Education Department, Socotra Cleaning Fund, the Socotra Wildlife Association, the Coastal Women Association, Youth and Children Government – Socotra members as well as other groups in the local community and several officials, including the acting governor.