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 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 its location presents an interesting mix of Central and East African forest and savannah species. Important pockets of wildlife remain across the country, although these are hard to research and protect.
Unfortunately, threats to the country’s wildlife are emerging; this area has a long historical association with ivory trafficking, but the increasing global demand for ivory coupled with extreme poverty is now driving ever higher poaching, bushmeat hunting and overexploitation of other natural resources. Meanwhile, the capacity of the new government is stretched to breaking point as it grapples with recurring outbreaks of conflict – something that also makes it difficult for international NGOs to operate in the country.