Skip to content

An Inspiration to Budding Somali Scientists

Ahmed Ibrahim Awale a 66-year-old scientist from Somaliland has been honoured by the three researchers who discovered the new scorpion species in the region in recognition of his decades of work in conservation and environmental protection. Since the 19th Century, researchers, mostly from Europe, have been exploring the rich ecology of the Somali region, but Mr Awale wants to add to the growing number of Somalis taking up zoology and botany. The 15cm large-clawed scorpion that now carries his name was found in an arid landscape near Agabara village about 50km north of Hargeisa, the capital of the self-declared republic of Somaliland. True to his name – Awale means “the lucky one” in Somali – he made his own discovery by chance. He was driving off-road “in the middle of nowhere” on one of his many field trips when he spotted huge clumps of more than 1,000 aloe plants. After taking a sample and going through a lengthy research and verification process – which included searching the archive at London’s Royal Botanic Gardens and the East African Herbarium in Nairobi – it was proved last year that this was a new species. Mr Awale and his team of researchers named it Aloe sanguinalis (red aloe). The discovery was the culmination of a lifetime’s passion that he partly puts down to where he grew up.