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Fauna

Local fauna in Socotra has received relatively little attention from the scientific community.

Birds. About 145 species of birds have been recorded in Socotra, some of which can be found nowhere else including the vulnerable (IUCN) Socotra Bunting (Emberiza socotrana), Socotra Starling (Onychognathus frater),  Socotra Sunbird (Nectarinia balfouri),  Socotra Sparrow (Passer insularis), Socotra Warbler (Incana incana), Socotra Grosbeak (Rhynchostruthus socotranus) and vulnerable (IUCN) Socotra Cisticola (Cisticola haesitatus). At least 30 species are known to breed on Socotra. With new species being found every year, ornithologists also believe that more detailed study of the  endemic subspecies will lead to the splitting of some to full specific status. The most obvious bird to the visitor, however, is the  Egyptian Vulture, known locally as Al Baladiya Socotri for its habit of cleaning up everything from kitchen waste to human feces. Outside of Hadibo, Socotra is a wonderfully clean place, thanks in large part to these active scavenger. Socotra is a host point for many immigrated/breeding birds of over 45 species such as Flamingos, Kettle egrets, Reef hearns, Gulls, etc. On pristine beaches visitors are often allowed to see colonies of the vulnerable (IUCN) Socotra Cormorant (Phalacrocorax nigrogularis). Click HERE  & HERE  for more details on birds.

Mammals. Few terrestrial mammals live on Socotra, most of which have been introduced by sailors, although there are some bats (Rhinopoma sp.), a shrew (Suncus sp.) and a species of genet (civet cats) possibly of endemic origin. The sea surrounding the island teams with whales and dolphins, however, Sperm Whales, Short-finned Pilot Whales, Spinner, and Bottle-nosed dolphins have all been spotted close to shore.

Domestic animals – camels, asses, goats, sheep, caws and cats – were brought in by traders, but a natural balance has been reached and is preserved by the management of livestock to prevent overgrazing.

Undre water life. The marine biodiversity around Socotra is rich, characterized by a unique mixture of species that are also found in far flung biogeographic regions, such as the western Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, Arabia, East Africa and the wider Indo-Pacific. Socotra waters abound in fish, ranging from tiny bright-reef dwellers to great spotted Whale Sharks more than 15 meters long. Crystal clarity makes this a divers dream. Despite of the small archipelago, Socotra island is home to more than 680 Species of fishes are comparable to those of the Red Sea and about 230 species of hard corals (five are endemics) and 30 species of soft corals. In addition to 300 species of crustacean (nine are endemics), 490 species of mollusks, and 230 species of algae.

Sea-turtles. At least four marine turtles roam the seas around the islands of the archipelago. The Loggerhead turtel Caretta  caretta regulary nests near Ghubbah on the north coast of Socotra, from May to September. The Green turtle Chelonia mydas has its largest nesting site on Abd al Kuri and also occasionally sests on the south coast of Socotra. Hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricata and the rarer Olive Ridleys Lepidoochelys olivacea also occur around Socotra, although no nesting has yet been confirmed.

An endemic fresh-water crab, Potamon socotrensis, is common in the temporary water-courses. In general the fresh-water habitats of the island have been little studied and it i s still not clear whether there are endemic freshwater fish living there.

Insects. There may be also undiscovered species of insects on Socotra. Because of the persistent monsoon winds, many Socotri insects have evolved relatively small wings, an adaptation, which prevents them from being blown out to sea. Other arthropods include immense centipedes which can reach a length of more than 20 centimeters and give a nasty pinch, at least two species of freshwater crabs, and huge spiders which spin yellow webs across woodland gaps, harmless to humans, but intimidating nonetheless. Click  HERE for more information on dragonflies

Reptiles. At least 80% of Socotra’s reptiles are endemic, and herpetologists believe that there are still several undiscovered species on the island. Among the reptiles, the burrowing legless Pachycalamus brevis is considered to be a relic of an ancient and once widely distributed Afro-Arabian herpetofauna. There are no amphibians,  despite adequate water and the arid-adpted species present on the nearby African and Arabian mainlands. It is possible that severe drought in the past eradicated any amphibians that may have colonized the island.

Click  HERE for more details on reptiles

 

 

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