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After two protracted civil wars, the Republic of South Sudan emerged on 9 July 2011 as an independent nation. South Sudan is diverse, vast and culturally rich with over 40 ethnic groups and languages.
Historically its floodplains, grasslands and forests literally teemed with wildlife thanks to the fresh water and fertile soils provided by the White Nile and its tributaries.
Despite the ravages of war, a huge wildlife migration (on a par with the Serengeti) persists in South Sudan and widespread pockets of wildlife still remain, along with a dormant protected area estate.
Unfortunately, new threats to the country’s wildlife are emerging. Weak environmental regulation and poor development planning pose serious risk to the country’s biodiversity, while the challenges of demobilisation and integration of former combatants could also place additional pressures on wildlife.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is bringing its extensive experience of working in conflict and post-conflict countries to South Sudan. We are working with the government to restart its wildlife conservation programmes and rehabilitate its protected areas.
FFI and the Wildlife Conservation Society are the only international conservation organisations present and active in South Sudan.
FFI, with the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism, is undertaking reconnaissance and ground surveys to verify anecdotal sightings of the Critically Endangered northern white rhino and developing action plans to be implemented should animals be found. These efforts could represent the last chance to save this subspecies and re-establish this flagship of South Sudan’s natural heritage.
FFI is supporting the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism, focusing on raising the capacity of state-level wildlife forces to manage its reserves and parks. This work has begun in Western Equatoria, where we have established an operational base in Yambio, and we hope to expand our ground-based, practical approach to the Lakes, Unity and Western Bahr-el-Ghazel states. We are also working with the Ministry in Juba and assisting in the formulation of new policies and regulations concerning the wildlife and tourism sector.
FFI is working with the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism in Western Equatoria to restart management of the western sector of Southern National Park (South Sudan’s oldest and largest national park). We are involved in anti-poaching training and wildlife monitoring, supporting scout deployment, road and infrastructure development, and equipment provision. This protected area support will extend gradually to the other sectors of Southern National Park and to the small but biologically rich forest game reserves of Bangangai and Bire Kpatuos along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.