Located in the Arabian Sea, east of the Horn of Africa, the Socotra Islands of Yemen are often referred to as the `Galapagos of the Indian Ocean', known for their many endemic species. In 2003, the islands became a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve, acknowledging the intimate relationship between the islanders and their environment. Its nomination as a natural World Heritage Site is underway.
This book provides a comprehensive review of the islands' flora, fauna and people. While documenting the geological history, land and marine biodiversity, ecology, human culture and history, the book also highlights hitherto unexplored aspects of the islands' biogeography, ecology and evolution. It also includes nine case studies illustrating local approaches to achieving conservation and sustainable development.
Thoroughly researched and referenced, with contributions from over 100 international and national specialists, the book is packed with the latest scientific, historic and cultural information. Each chapter has been reviewed by specialists renowned in their particular fields.
Through this book, the authors hope to arouse interest and engender actions to sustain Socotra's unique natural and cultural history into the future.
"When an advance copy ... arrived at my door, I was quite frankly gobsmacked. I had not known what to expect, but I had not expected such a magnificently presented, fabulously illustrated and so wide- covering and exhaustively researched a tome as this. It is without doubt the definitive study of the unique natural history of this extraordinary island and its no less unique people in a moment of change - whether at ground level, above ground, below ground, or in the depths of the surrounding sea, past, present and future. And the range of its illustrations - from close-ups of widow spiders and paper moths to wide-angle panoramas of the ancient landscape and its oceanic setting, and Socotrans past and present - is unsurpassed. But this is not just the definitive study, and a synthesis and treasure trove of the combined knowledge of divers researchers in the last decade, it is also unsurpassed as a celebration of these precious things, and a rallying bugle-call for their understanding and conservation. ... If you value Socotra you will treasure this book - buy it now while stocks last!" - Douglas Botting, author of Island of the Dragon's Blood
"... the first full natural history of the flora, fauna and people of these islands." - Nature (Vol. 445, 4 Jan 07)
"... it's a splendid achievement - rich, fascinating, scholarly, wonderfully comprehensive and beautifully produced" - Tim Mackintosh-Smith
"It is a very successful book in that it combines both the coffee-table approach with enough good scientific information to give it substance, interest, and appeal." - Charles Sheppard, J Nat Hist, 41 (2007), 481.
Together, Catherine Cheung (MSc) and Lyndon DeVantier (PhD) have four decades worth of experience working in developing countries from S.E. Asia to the Middle East to help assess, design and manage protected areas (national parks and nature reserves).
Lyndon, an Australian, grew up in Queensland. His first real environmental awareness developed in Noosa in the 1960s-70s. His environmental conscience was first sparked by the destruction of the beautiful mangrove ecosystem and waterways for a real estate development.
Lyndon subsequently studied marine science at the University of Queensland, receiving a PhD in 1994. He specialized in coral ecology, an interest first developed while surfing on the coral reefs on Indonesia in the mid-1970s.
His work in coral reef ecology took him to North Queensland where he studied the impact of the Crown-of-Thorns Starfish on corals of the Great Barrier Reef. Early on in Indonesia, he taught local scientists reef survey methods, and later in 1994 in Vietnam, he met his wife-to-be, Catherine. Presently he works for various government and non-government agencies, including the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Conservation International (CI), on biodiversity assessments in far-flung corners of the world, most recently in Irian Jaya (Indonesian Papua).
Catherine graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a MSc in marine biology in 1991. Her interest and dedication to nature conservation came largely from David Attenborough’s major TV series back in the late 1980s when she was at uni. From 1992-94, working for the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), Catherine led the first comprehensive marine diversity surveys of Vietnam in 1992, training local scientists in field and analytical techniques and report writing. The surveys also formed the basis of Vietnam's national system plan for marine protected areas. Her work in subsequent years with the Asian Bureau for Conservation, World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the Global Environment Facility Unit of the United Nations Development Programme (GEF/UNDP), focussed largely on biodiversity reviews and program development.
From 1997-2000, the couple resided to the Socotra Islands of Yemen, working as part of a team on a GEF/UNDP biodiversity and sustainable development project. Together with Belgium freshwater biologist Kay Van Damme, they dedicated six years in the creation of a book on the natural history of the islands, featured in Nature (Vol. 445, 4 Jan 2007) and described as "superb and even inspiration" by world-renowned natural scientist Prof. Edward O. Wilson. The book s available at the Natural History Book Service NHBS.