The Socotra Wildlife Association – conserving wildlife through awareness and capacity building
Guest blog by Ali Yahya Ali Bin Mahrous and Nasser Abdulrahman Ahmed of the Socotra Wildlife Association
The Socotra Wildlife Association is a non-governmental, voluntary, environmental organization established in November 2014 and officially registered at the local branch office of The Yemeni Minister of Works and Social Affairs. It focuses on helping conserve and protect the Socotra Archipelago as a World Heritage Site through environmental awareness programs and field activities among local communities and schoolchildren.
It has 40 members from both genders. Most are young people of Socotra who are fully aware and of its unique biodiversity and ecosystems. Based on their volunteering and self-initiatives as well as collaboration and coordination with government bodies and international environmental organizations, the association had successfully implemented a number of environmental campaigns and activities, and here are some of their selected activities during the last three years.
One of the strategy that the association has adopted is to outreach and engage local communities of Socotra into environmental issues through reviving and celebrating international environmental days and events. To get financial and in-kind help and support, the association has successfully established strong cooperation with a number of the international conservation bodies, including the UNE-GEF Socotra Project, OSME, BirdLife International as well as local governmental bodies on Socotra, for example Governor Office, Environment Protection Authority and Education Office. With generous grants from these the SWA has successfully celebrated and implemented several international environmental days and events annually since 2018, including the International Vulture Awareness Day, Wetlands Day and Environmental Day.
The Socotra Wildlife Association has greatly contributed in building capacity of the local communities, officials, young people and women by carrying out training courses and workshops on biodiversity conservation, human development and socio-economics. For instance, in December 2019, the SWA implemented a six-day training workshop for 300 people from several youth clubs to build their capacities on human development. The association also carried out a strategic planning workshop in conservation for members of the local authority as well as general directors of the executive departments and offices. These two training workshops were sponsored and funded by the Governor of Socotra H.E Mr. Ramzi Mahroos and the Head of Al Mahra and Socotra General Council Shiekh Abdullah Issa Al Affrar.
In close collaboration with the Socotran Education office, the SWA aims to raise awareness of schoolchildren and students in protecting Socotra as a World Heritage Site through implementing programs and activities in schools. We are delivering environmental lessons, making presentations and organising environmental and cultural events. We are also taking school children on field visits to learn about nature and to enable them to participate in environmental issues such as plastic clearance campaigns and helping the exotic plant species eradication program.
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.
Nasser Abdulrahman Ahmed is also a young Socotran who graduated from Sana’a University, specializing in plants. With his Socotran colleagues he established the Socotra Wildlife Association.
Ali, Nasser and their 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 in environmental issues through carrying out environmental awareness activities and events.