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South Sudan’s wildlife in jeopardy -WCS


The Wildlife Conservation Society is calling on South Sudanese authorities to protect wildlife in the country.

Albert Schenk, the Chief of Party and Country Director of Wildlife Conservation Society in South Sudan urges the public to also play their part by not engaging in poaching, selling or buying of bushmeat as well as deforestation.

In 2017, the Ministry of Wildlife, Conservation and Tourism admitted that wild animals do migrate to the neighboring countries but do come back to South Sudan.

South Sudan is known to be a home for elephants, a great number of cheetah, ostrich, Nile crocodile, pangolins, among others, but are at risk of extinction.

Conservationists say wildlife in the country is being depleted because cattle raiders and troops on the move rely on poaching.

They, on several occasions, say that civilians and the organized forces must protect elephants, gazelles and zebras.

At least seventy-five elephants have been killed in South Sudan between the year 2012 and 2014, according to the government.

Also in 2017, the then minister of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism called for special care in protecting endangered animals.

Nunu Kumba said South Sudan is known to be a home for elephants, but she said the number has reduced from about 80,000 in the 1980s to just more than 700.

She added that other endangered species include Black and white rhinos and lions and African leopards.

Others are cheetah, ostrich, Nile crocodile, pangolins.

Albert Schenk called on the stakeholders to reflect on the need to protect the environment and start looking at concrete action to address any environmental issues.

Albert also called on the international community to exert more effort for natural resource management and conservation in South Sudan.

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He described the challenges facing wildlife in the country on the Dawn.

“There are unfortunately armed groups and also individuals who use automatic weapons for commercial wildlife poaching, and that’s illegal. We also see the trafficking of wildlife and wildlife products such as ivory, bush meats, the skin of animals that are trafficked both inside South Sudan but also across the border to other countries,” Mr. Schenk told Eye Radio’s Dawn Program.

“There is also this rapidly expanding charcoal production and deforestation and then we have other issues like pollution from the extractive industries and climate change. All these, of course, put a lot of pressure on the wildlife.”

The tourism industry in East Africa is a major driver of employment, investment and foreign exchange. It raised $1.55 billion in Kenya in 2018, while Uganda earned $1.88 billion from tourism in the same year.

Last year, the United States launched a $7.5 million project to support conservation of wildlife, natural resources and protected areas in South Sudan. The funds, managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, would enable the project to build sustainable livelihoods and mitigate conflict in and around Boma and Badingilo national parks.

It also sought to address the increasing pressure on wildlife -from poachers and traffickers, and the unregulated developments in the parks and reserves.

For the last four years, the government of South Sudan has made announcements that it plans to deploy forces in national parks and reserves, including along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to stop poaching.

“We’ve laws in our hand but our people are neglecting them all this time because people don’t understand what the benefit of wildlife is,” said Major General Philip Chol Majak, Director General of Wildlife Service.

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But across Africa, the Covid-19 pandemic has provided opportunities for poachers, with security forces diverted to other tasks. Combined with the absence of visitors, this has left many reserves vulnerable.

Just this week, poachers killed at least six elephants in a single day in Ethiopia, wildlife officials said on Tuesday, the largest such slaughter in memory in the region.

Experts believe that the proper management of game reserves and the protection of wild animals will attract tourists into South Sudan.

Last year, the Wildlife Conversation Society said it is working on a project aimed at doubling the number of lions in South Sudan by 2050. Under the Lion Recovery Fund, the project seeks to secure lion populations in Buma-Bandingilo landscape and increase support for lion conservation as well as jointly addressing threats facing lions in South Sudan.

As a way forward, Albert explained that there is a need to “to provide adequate support and make adequate resources available for the South Sudan National Wildlife Service to enable them to do what they are mandated to do.”

He stressed that this will enable game rangers and conservation institutions “conserve South Sudan natural heritage, to manage the protected areas of South Sudan and protect South Sudan wildlife and to ensure that all the South Sudan citizens including the armed forces of South Sudan respect the laws of the country and not to engage in the destruction of the country’s nature, forestry and wildlife but instead protect it.”

Mr. Schenk also urged individuals to do their part by not cutting down trees or trading in bushmeat.

“If you have to chop down a tree, plant five new ones…if you have to throw away a plastic bottle or other rubbish, don’t throw it on the street, don’t throw it in a rive but dispose of it responsibly,” he emphasized.

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Recent reports indicate that more than 500 species of land animals were found to be on the brink of extinction and likely to be lost within 20 years.

June 5th is World Environment Day.

First held in 1974 by the United Nations and celebrated worldwide on the fifth of June each year, the World Environment Day is a day for raising awareness about environmental issues that need our attention, including human overpopulation, global warming, pollution, and conservation.

The theme for 2020 is: “Time for Nature,’ with a focus on its role in providing the essential infrastructure that supports life on Earth and human development.”

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