Two hundred miles off the coast of Yemen is Socotra, a remote island known as the jewel of the Arabia, where a species of otherworldly tree known as dragon’s blood has bloomed for millenia. With its unusual, umbrella-like appearance, the tree is native to nowhere else.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
In March, photographer Martin Edström, 30 years old, began documenting how varying crises have begun closing in on this remote paradise. “There’s a lot of political turmoil, a lot of climate change, a lot of threats that we want to shine a light on,” he says. [Related: Can Yemen's 'Dragon Blood Island' be saved?]
Edström and his teammates, National Geographic explorer Ella Al-Shamahi and filmmaker Leon McCarron, made the two-and-a-half day journey on an Indian shipping vessel, enduring nights spent amongst thousands of cockroaches that climbed on them as they slept. Once there, Edström, equipped with a Nikon D850 and a Nikon lens, found a moment of downtime after trekking to a valley spot filled with dragon’s blood trees. He noticed his translator, Muhammed, begin to harvest a tree’s resin, prized for its medicinal uses.
“For him, this was a mundane moment. It’s just him waiting with the trees he knows all too well. You can really see the spiritual connection between him and that tree,” he says.