The role of the Egyptian Vultures in the lives of the Socotri

A guest blog by Ali Yahya Ali Mahrous and Salem Abdullah Ali Mohammed

Due to the long isolation of the Socotra islands from other regions in the world wonderful wildlife, unique biodiversity and amazing marine life have where been formed. Throughout thousands of years, the Socortis had been living in peaceful harmony with their beautiful environment.

The environment is an influential source, and an important factor for the local communities of Socotra, either in the mountains or on the coast.

The shepherds in the mountains and the fishermen in the coastal villages have adopted very strict traditional practices and tribal customs, which organize and regulate the use of natural resources. This is because of the strong relationship between the Socorti and his wonderful wildlife including birds. This has led the Socorti communities to deal with all types of birds on the islands with respect. As the Socorti look on a bird as an important creature as well as a great player in his surrounding environment. For instance, the Egyptian Vulture, which is locally known as “Saueedoh” is considered one of the most important birds linking the Soctoris’ lives with the environment and social events.

Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus
Marriages ceremonies in Socotra

The vultures also play major roles in keeping Socotra very clean by cleaning and eating the left-over food, waste, and carcasses. This has helped in making Socotra so clean and beautiful as well as helping prevent disease spreading among local communities.

Egyptian Vultures eating the left-over food
Egyptian Vultures soaring in groups

It is been witnessed that the vulture when feeding sometimes uses small rocks and stones to break down the left-over bones. It also picks bones up in its beak and breaks them by hitting them on small rocks. I have also discovered that during the hours of 9am to 12 noon is their cleaning time. They come in groups to the wadis to drink, then they sunbathe on a flat area close by where they start preening each other.

Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus

Ali Yahya Ali Mahrous is Socotran environmental activist who had been trained and worked with international environmental projects for several of years. He holds a BSc specializing in information systems and computer sciences. He has worked for UNE-GEF Socotra Project of promoting environmental solutions in the islands where he been team leader for the awareness strategies, women empowerment, and socioeconomic development of local communities around the protected areas. Ali’s aim is to see his beloved islands’ biodiversity and wildlife conserved and protected and believes the best way to do that is by raising awareness amongst the Socotran community of environmental issues through  environmental awareness activities and programs.

Salem Abdullah Ali Mohammed is based in the Dihamri Protected Area in the Socotra Archipelago Governorate. He holds a BSc from Hadramout University, specializing in marine biology and environmental sciences. He works as volunteer for the UNE-GEF Socotra project, especially in the Marine Protected Areas. His main interest is in conserving the islands’ environment, particularly the marine environment, for which he has great energy and enthusiasm.

Ali Yahya Ali Mahrous
Salem Abdullah Ali Mohammed

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