Socotra celebrates International Vulture Awareness Day for the third year
A guest blog by Ali Yahya Ali Bin Mahrous of the Socotra Wildlife Association
Socotra, for the third year, has again joined the world in celebrating International Vulture Awareness Day. Together with my colleagues in the Socotra Wildlife Association I helped to organize several events to highlight the importance of our Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus as well as several other environmental activities. The success was in part due to generous grants awarded by both Birdlife International (through their Saving Extinctions Programme) and OSME.
Local community engagement was helped by collaboration with government bodies including the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), together with English Training Centers such as that of Al-Tafwouk and the Socotra Institute for Languages and Computers. This made sure of local participation and involvement at these internationally recognized events. The team also visited the Womens’ Unit of the General Council for Al-Mahra and Socotra to promote contribution by women in this significant event.
On September 3, 2020, the team carried out an environmental workshop in Al-Tafwouk English Language Center. Two awareness presentations were delivered: the Egyptian Vulture and Birds of Prey on Socotra. The workshop was well attended with the participation of 60 students from both genders.
On Saturday, September 5, 2020, the IVAD event was officially celebrated at Sirhen Lagoon, one of the most important bird sites on Socotra. The General Directors of both the EPA and the Culture Office formally inaugurated the event. During the celebration, the team held a discussion panel covering several environmental issues. These included threats to vultures and birds of prey, as well as threats to bird habitats on Socotra. We also discussed the importance of raising environmental awareness and the importance of law enforcement for the conservation of the unique biodiversity of our island. The discussion panel resulted in a number of outcomes and recommendations, which will be shared with the relevant government bodies and NGOs.
Out of the 41 people participating in this vital discussion we had attendance from officials, young people, women, representatives of NGOs and media reporters.
Two vulture based environmental competitions were held. First, we had a photography and videography contest on Birds of Prey. In this competition, ten local photographers and videographers participated. The best photo and the best video clip won recognition and a cash prize of 50,000 Yemeni Rials.
The second competition was carried out among students in the Socotra Institute for Languages and Computers. Among 25 students, five girls and five boys were selected to participate. Various environmental-based questions were asked, for example: Could you mention two names of the important birds of prey on Socotra ? and How many pairs of Egyptian Vultures on Socotra Island ?
Of the ten participating students, eight won a reward.
Hosting events such as the International Vulture Awareness Day creates popular avenues to bring awareness to the Socotri people, ensuring the protection of not only the vultures but also the encompassing biodiverse ecosystems found here in Socotra. It is with great honor we participate in IVAD with support from Richard Porter, the Socotra Wildlife Association, Birdlife International, OSME and the many organizations mentioned.
Ali Yahya Ali Bin Mahrous is a young Socotran environmental activist who had been trained and worked with international environmental projects for several of years. He and his colleagues in the Socotra Wildlife Association are aiming to see their islands’ biodiversity conserved and protected. They believe the best way to do that is by raising awareness of the Socotran community on environmental issues through carrying out environmental awareness activities and events.