Southern Sudan Wildlife

Discussion in 'News & Announcements' started by AFRICAN INDABA, Jul 20, 2011.



    Aug 21, 2009
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    Southern Sudan Wildlife

    Editor’s Note: James Deutsch, Executive Director, Africa Program Wildlife Conservation Society, sent out an urgent appeal to the US Government to continue the support for conservation in South Sudan. African Indaba certainly supports the conservation of this largely unknown crown jewel of African Wildlife. However, organized tourism and the plans South Sudan becoming an eco-tourism hub will not happen soon. The parks and protected areas will largely remain paper parks. We suggest that incentive-driven-conservation, in other words a combination of extractive and non-extractive sustainable use options (I hate the words consumptive and non-consumptive, since eco-tourism sailing often under the flag of being non-consumptive, is probably at least as consumptive as any extractive use, probably more so) are undoubtedly the best solution for the new country. Incentive driven conservation, as practiced for example by the Namibian Government includes the rural inhabitants and provides tangible benefits, not only for rural livelihoods but also to the socio-cultural fabric of the people and last not least to wildlife and wild areas. The WWF-LIFE program in Namibia (once also supported by USAID) is a glowing example on how African governments, international conservation NGOs, professional hunting outfitters and their clients, international hunting associations and advocacies and last not least the main stakeholders – the rural people who live together with wildlife – can successfully work together for a sustainable future.

    The world's second largest remaining terrestrial wildlife migration – the awe-inspiring mass movement of more than a million graceful gazelles, white-eared kob and tiang – somehow managed to survive 25 years of brutal civil war in Sudan. Now, these wonderful creatures stand on the brink of more change. On July 9th, South Sudan will be the world's newest democracy – and wildlife, along with the country's landscape and abundant natural resources, could be either its crown jewel or collateral damage during a time of massive change. Unfortunately, it's at this crucial juncture that the U.S. government is considering significantly reducing funding for the very programs that will help ensure the [migration]. Funding from the USAID program supports critical development opportunities in the region that include:

    - Training local communities and government officials in natural resource management and wildlife law enforcement.

    - Conserving key migratory routes and habitat for wildlife through supporting the establishment of national parks and corridors.

    - Collecting information on wildlife, livestock and natural resource use in order to develop sound and sustainable environmental policies and land-use management systems.

    But foreign aid for conservation is on the [chopping block]. The US government has made a sound investment in South Sudan's wildlife, natural resource management and landscapes. With [one of the world's last great migrations at stake], we can't turn our backs.

    Background Information
    After [South Sudan] voted overwhelmingly for [independence], one of many tasks facing the nation's nascent leaders is the conservation of its stunning wildlife. In 2007 the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) surveyed South Sudan. They found 1.3 million white-eared kob, tiang (or topi) antelope and Mongalla gazelle still roamed the plains, making up the world's second largest migration after the Serengeti. Sudan's great wildernesses are also inhabited by buffalo, giraffe, lion, bongo, chimpanzee, and some 8,000 elephants.

    "There is a historic opportunity, perhaps unprecedented, for wildlife conservation, sustainable natural resource management and environmentally friendly ecotourism to be integrated into the nation-building process," said Steven Sanderson CEO of WCS. With some of the continent's biggest herds—and therefore some of the best wildlife viewing in the world—South Sudan could become an eco-tourism hub. "The case for conservation is clear: The protection of parkland and wildlife must be a rallying point. Animal migrations, along with pristine savanna and wetland habitat, could become one of the greatest tourism attractions in Africa and a key component of Southern Sudan's growth and economic security," Sanderson added.

    One of the nation's key problems will be how to preserve its stunning migration. The world's land-migrations have largely vanished over the last century, and even today Tanzania is threatening its famed wildebeest migration with a cross-country road project. South Sudan should learn from this: every development project should be weighted carefully over whether it would negatively impact the migration, the main draw for tourism. But wealth could come from more than tourism and should be measured as more than GDP. Protecting watersheds and forests will greatly benefit the people of South Sudan, who are mostly agriculturalists and herders, by preserving precious ecosystem services. Smart partnerships with open-minded NGOs could help the people of Sudan grow more food, gain improved health care, receive education, improve infrastructure, and essentially live better while preserving their ecosystems. Already the South Sudan government is showing optimistic foresight. Last month, it asked investors to support its underfunded parks with $140 million. "We want to create another source of income other than oil," Daniel Wani, undersecretary for wildlife at the Ministry of Wildlife, Conservation and Tourism, told Reuters. "The potential of tourism can encourage people to come." The $140 million would help fix-up South Sudan's vast network of parks and add infrastructure for what it hopes will be its first tourists, including guard posts, roads, airstrips, and hotels. Of course, such infrastructure must be smartly planned, so it doesn't degrade the ecosystems people have come to visit. The country has also recruited 16,000 former soldiers for wildlife guards. Given poaching and bushmeat rates across Africa, park guards are essential to protecting South Sudan's wildlife.

    (Original WCS text slightly shortened for space reasons)

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