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Natural treasures: Socotra Islands, Yemen

The Socotra islands face the challenge of how to conserve its unique species of plants and animals while opening up to tourism and improving life for its 50,000 human inhabitants.

This is the approach to Ditwa lagoon and beach near the port of Qalensiya, the second largest town on Yemen's Socotra island in the Arabian Sea. Now that Socotra's long isolation has been eroded, Socotra faces the challenge of how to conserve its natural treasures while opening up to tourism and improving life for its 50,000 inhabitants. Staff / Reuters
An Egyptian Vulture flies over Socotra island. The population of bird is over 1,000 in Socotra, making it the most concentrated population of the endangered species in the world. The Socotra islands are located in the Arabian Sea, 380 km (238 miles) south of mainland Yemen and 80 km west of the Horn of Africa. Socotra, which harbors many unique species of birds and plants, may gain UNESCO recognition in July as a world natural heritage site. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters
A local guide stands at the mouth of Di Gob cave on Socotra island. Staff / Reuters
A tourist swims in a natural rock pool in a river on the island of Socotra. Staff / Reuters
Fishermen prepare their nets on the Socotra coast. Gamma / Zuma Press
A day's catch from fishing on the Socotra coast. Gamma / Zuma Press
Paragliders fly over a hill near the Qalensia beach of Socotra island. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters
Dragon's Blood trees, known locally as Dam al-Akhawain, or blood of the two brothers, are seen on Socotra island. Prized for its red medicinal sap, the Dragon's Blood is the most striking of 900 plant species on the Socotra islands. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters
A Saudi businessman checks the sap of a Dragon's Blood tree. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters
A girl swings on a rope in the fishing port of Qalensiya, the second biggest town on Socotra island. Staff / Reuters
Another unique species of plant, Socotran "desert roses", whose obese trunks are adapted to store water, stand on a hillside in Wadi Diksam on Socotra island. Staff / Reuters