“Dragon’s Blood Island: Socotra and Our Search for Dragons” by Ella Al-Shamahi
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15/11/2018

MBI Al Jaber Lecture Series: “Dragon’s Blood Island: Socotra and Our Search for Dragons” by Ella Al-Shamahi

Ella Al-Shamahi, Leon McCarron, Rhys Thwaites-Jones & Martin Edstrom
Clockwise from top left: Ella Al-Shamahi, Leon McCarron, Rhys Thwaites-Jones & Martin Edstrom

National Geographic Explorer and BBC presenter Ella Al-Shamahi delivered the second lecture of the current MBI Al Jaber Lecture Series. Ella is a British-Yemeni palaeoanthropologist, National Geographic Explorer, BBC presenter and stand-up comic who specialises in searching for fossils in caves in unstable territories. During 2018, she presented and was the Associate Producer of the two-part, BBC 2 documentary “Neanderthals: Meet Your Ancestors”. Since the war in Yemen began, she has been concerned about the lack of discussion of the impact on Yemen's people and its heritage.

In her talk, Ella discussed a recent expedition in which she took part. In March 2018, an MBI Al Jaber-sponsored team of four - Ella Al-Shamahi, Leon McCarron, Martin Edström and Rhys Thwaites-Jones - set off on a cement cargo ship in an attempt to reach Socotra and document this incredible place. Socotra is part of an archipelago in the Indian Ocean between Somalia and Yemen, well-known for its rich biodiversity. She talked about Socotra's uniqueness and the quasi-mystery of why the Dragon's Blood Tree is struggling, as well as the island’s inhabitants, some of whom are still part-time cave dwellers.

Ella stated that Socotra is unlike anywhere else on earth: a zoological and botanical treasure trove and a refuge for species that have elsewhere become extinct. Long protected by the traditions and stewardship of Socotrans, the island is now being buffeted by geopolitics, rapid development and climate change.

The MBI Al Jaber Seminar Room was filled to capacity and the talk was welcomed by an enthusiastic audience and followed by a thought-provoking Q&A session.

If you would like to read more about the expedition, please click here for Leon McCarron’s recent article, featuring photos by Martin Edström.

For more details on future events in the MBI Al Jaber Lecture Series, please see our Forthcoming Events.

We look forward to welcoming you!


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