The island of Socotra also called "extraterrestrial island" is hidden in the Arabian Sea just off the coast of Yemen. Thanks to its remote location, this lost paradise offers truly unique flora and fauna. Since 2008, it has been protected by UNESCO to preserve its ecosystem. But due to a sharp increase in tourism and foreign interest, is this stunning island facing irreversible threats?
Earth's weirdest island?
Socotra is an island archipelago found in the Indian Ocean between Somalia and Yemen. Even though it may just be Earth's most strangely unique and beautiful island, it still remains a mystery for most people. Not only are the island's plant formations bizarre, but its also home to exceptional wildlife. And we aren't the first generation to discover its beauty. It is believed that this island even interested the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.
Unique fauna and flora
On this island you can find 700 unique plant species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. These species are believed to have been here for around 20 million years due to the advantage of growing on an isolated island. From its well-known dragon trees which resemble an umbrella shape to its distinctive desert roses, also known as bottle trees which have an interesting bulbous trunk. Not only do these trees look incredible, but they may even have healing properties. The dragon's blood tree produces a red colored resin which can be used for medicines and dyes.
Threats to the Island
Part of the reason this island's unique fauna and flora flourished was due to its geographical advantage of being a isolated. However, since Socotra opened its first airport in 1999, tourism has only been on the rise and it is now posing risks for the species found here. National Geographic commented on this impact in 2012, stating that "some of Socotra's admirers fear that the Yemeni government's rush to bring the island into the 21st century may have already irreversibly damaged the very things those people came to see and could bring an end to a way of life that has endured for centuries.?
The island's future
Unfortunately, the island doesn't just face the threat of an increase in tourist interest. More pressing is the issue of foreign occupation. In recent years, the UAE has taken an interest in the island due to its strategic location. And since then, the UAE has established a military base and a communications base on the island. Activists have fought back arguing that the occupation is harming the island's unique species. It's difficult to say what the future holds for the weird and wonderful Socotra Island.