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9783895000997

Wranik, Wolfgang

Sokotra

Mensch und Natur

1999
21.0 x 28.0 cm, 304 p., 124 illustrations color, 255 illustrations b/w, 4 Tabellen, hardback
52,00 €

ISBN: 9783895000997

Short Description

Sokotra in the Indian Ocean is one of the best preserved tropical islands. This copiously illustrated volume presents the unique and evolutionarily interesting flora and fauna of the island as well the cultural history of its population. The volume describes the problems of the region especially with regard to the conflict betweendevelopment and protection.

Description

The Socotra Archipelago, which is situated in the north-western part of the Inian Ovean, still belongs to the comparatively unexplored parts of the world. Apart from some 19th century travel accoubts the island has been a relatively well-kept secret, virtually isolated from the rest of the world and effectively closed for foreign visitors because of military considerations and extreme natural conditions.
The fascinating and unique character of the flora and fauna of Socotra is related to its geological history. The island is probably part of a fault block separated off from the mainland by the same series of dislocations which produced the Gulf of Aden in Tertiary times and it is considered by geologists as one of the „mostisolated pieces of land“ in the history of the earth. the high degree of endemism, as a result of this long isolation, makes the Archipelago of remarkable biogeographic and evolutionary interest and an important place in terms of global wildlife conservation.
Although the geological history of the island is in many details still imperfectly known, it is possible to suggest that some of the endemic species are relics of an ancient flora and fauna surviving in the massif of Socotra, which is considered not to have submerged since the Mesozoic.
Altogether some 850 plant species have been recorded so far, about 270 of which are considered to be endemic. Among them there are strange-looking remnants of ancient floras, which long ago disappeared from the surrounding mainland. Perhaps the most strikingly plants are the dragon’s blood tree and the bizarre tree succulents, the desert rose, and the cucumber tree. Equally fascinating is the land and freshwater fauna, whith an exceptional number of endemics, but above all, comparatively poorly studied. Among the land birds at least 6 species, as well as 12 sub-species, are restricted to Socotra. The reptilian fauna is also very rich with 21 out of a total of 24 species regarded as endemics. But a significant part of the available data on the flora and fauna of Socotra dates back to turn-of-the-century expeditions. this, in turn, creates severe problems for a well-prepared protection strategy and means a definite need for field surveys of any kind. Beside all these biological peculiarities the cultural history of human inhabitant on the island is equally interesting. Arabs, Africans, Greeks and Portugueses came o the island to different times and contributed their part to its own manners, cultures and spiritual idea. There is a special language of the nomacid hill tribes, which has no writing. The transhumant indigenous people of the interior are subsistent farmers and pastoralists, while coastal dwellers engage mostly in fishing and trade. Principles of cooperation, self-help and community labour are well established, and there is also a whole rabnge of relevant traditional rules and practices which are of economical importance.
The opening of the island a few years ago has stimulated plans to improve the poor living conditions and infrastructure. This marks a crucial turning point for the Archipelago, which represents a fragile ecosystem.

Reviews

„All parts of the book have excellent illustrations, though particularly the appendix presents wonderful color pictures. Altogether, I highly recomment this book, which lieves up to its title „Socotra - man and nature“. The price (ca. 50 €) is perfectly appropiate.“

In: Ecotropica. 10 (2004). S. 159.

Keywords

Arabian peninsula (60) || Biology, life sciences (45) || Botany & plant sciences (33) || Cultural & media studies (215) || Cultural studies (197) || Development studies (15) || Geography (506) || Indian Ocean || Interdisciplinary studies (44) || Middle East (364) || Oceans & seas (5) || Regional geography (34) || Regional studies (23) || Society & culture: general (299) || Sokotra || The environment (11) || Yemen (35) || Zoology & animal sciences (12) || Ökologie (3)