Yemen names national bird
The Yemen Council of Ministers has recently approved the Golden-winged Grosbeak as Yemen's national bird. This colourful bird, with a huge beak for eating fruits and seeds, occurs in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen.
Yemen has also chosen the Arabian Leopard Panthera pardus nimr as the national mammal, the Dragon Blood Tree Dracaena cinnabari as the national tree, and the Aloe Aloe irafensis as the national plant.
After a long consultation process the final selection of the bird was made by Environment Minister His Excellency Abdul Rahman Al-Eryani. In a statement to Yemen cabinet and the press he said: “I am proud we have chosen these animals and plants that are so important for Yemen's biodiversity and culture. They will help us promote wildlife education and conservation actions.”
“Already the possibility of a leopard reserve is being investigated, which will also be important for many of Yemen's endemic birds and plants,” said Richard Porter, BirdLife International’s Middle East Advisor.
“I am proud we have chosen these animals and plants that are so important for Yemen's biodiversity and culture. They will help us promote wildlife education and conservation actions” —His Excellency Abdul Rahman Al-Eryani, Environment Minister for Yemen
Since 2004 BirdLife have considered the Golden-winged Grosbeak as three distinct species - Arabian Grosbeak Rhynchostruthus percivali, Somali Grosbeak R. louisae and Socotra Grosbeak R. socotranus. The Socotra Grosbeak is endemic to the island of Socotra, which is administered by Yemen and located in the Indian Ocean, 190 km east of the horn of Africa and 480 km off the Arabian coast.
Socotra is currently being considered as a potential UNESCO World Heritage site. "It's a unique ecosystem, the outstanding endemic flora and fauna and relatively unspoilt habitats are the main reasons for the island being considered," said Richard Porter. "There are over 300 endemic plants, nine endemic birds, 60 butterflies and 21 reptiles.
“Eleven globally threatened birds have been recorded on Socotra, including the Vulnerable Socotra Bunting Emberiza socotrana and Socotra Cormorant Phalacrocorax nigrogularis, and the Near-Threatened Jouanin's Petrel Bulweria fallax and Island Cisticola Cisticola haesitatus. Socotra also has the highest concentration in the world of the Endangered Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus.”