Somaliland Frankincense Industry Threatened by High Demand

The sap of the frankincense tree has been a valued commodity for millennia.
Egyptian pharaohs traded for the gum, and Christians know frankincense as one of the gifts the three wise men brought to the baby Jesus, according to the New Testament.
But increased demand has threatened the ancient trade as men in Somaliland risk their lives to harvest the resin in ever greater quantities.

A man holds a chunk of prized maydi, the most expensive frankincense resin, in Mader Moge, Somaliland, Aug. 4, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
A man holds a chunk of prized maydi, the most expensive frankincense resin, in Mader Moge, Somaliland, Aug. 4, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
The Daalo escarpment of the Cal Madow Mountains rises 8,000 feet above the Gulf of Aden, and in its canyons grow the frankincense forests, Aug. 4, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
The Daalo escarpment of the Cal Madow Mountains rises 8,000 feet above the Gulf of Aden, and in its canyons grow the frankincense forests, Aug. 4, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
A frankincense harvester balances in a tree perched on a canyon wall near the village of Gudmo, Somaliland, Aug. 3, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
A frankincense harvester balances in a tree perched on a canyon wall near the village of Gudmo, Somaliland, Aug. 3, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
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A frankincense harvester balances in a tree perched on a canyon wall near the village of Gudmo, Somaliland, Aug. 3, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
Mohamed Ahmed Ali wounds a frankincense tree near Mader Moge, Somaliland, Aug. 4, 2016. He says his family has been harvesting frankincense for more than 100 years. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
Mohamed Ahmed Ali wounds a frankincense tree near Mader Moge, Somaliland, Aug. 4, 2016. He says his family has been harvesting frankincense for more than 100 years. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
Frankincense resin seeps out of a frankincense tree near the village of Mader Moge, Aug. 4, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
Frankincense resin seeps out of a frankincense tree near the village of Mader Moge, Aug. 4, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
A basket of dried frankincense resin is ready for sorting in Erigavo, Somaliland, Aug. 3, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
A basket of dried frankincense resin is ready for sorting in Erigavo, Somaliland, Aug. 3, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
Women sort raw frankincense gum in Burao, Somaliland, Aug. 6, 2016. The men harvest the sap, a dangerous job, and the women prepare the gum for export. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
Women sort raw frankincense gum in Burao, Somaliland, Aug. 6, 2016. The men harvest the sap, a dangerous job, and the women prepare the gum for export. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
Luul Sait Chama sorts different types of frankincense gum in Erigavo, Somaliland, Aug. 3, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
Luul Sait Chama sorts different types of frankincense gum in Erigavo, Somaliland, Aug. 3, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
A woman sorts pieces of dried frankincense gum in Erigavo, Somaliland, Aug. 3, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
A woman sorts pieces of dried frankincense gum in Erigavo, Somaliland, Aug. 3, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
A frankincense trader holds up a tear of prized maydi, the most expensive frankincense resin, near the village of Gudmo, Somaliland, Aug. 2, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)
A frankincense trader holds up a tear of prized maydi, the most expensive frankincense resin, near the village of Gudmo, Somaliland, Aug. 2, 2016. (J.Patinkin/VOA)

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