When a few months ago 15 elephant carcasses were found, their tusks
cut out, were questions being raised about South Sudan’s commitment to
wildlife conservation, given that the country has not yet put their
civil strife behind it.
Now, reports are coming in that another 17 elephant have been
butchered for their ivory, in the same migration corridor where the
previous killings happened.
When South Sudan emerged from the liberation war with the Khartoum
regime, was to the surprise of many the country’s wildlife thriving,
to a large part because even the troops needed permission to shoot
game for food, ensuring that discipline was maintained.
Since the start of the armed conflict between the main political
opponents, regime leader Salva Kiir and his former Vice President –
now re-appointed to the position under the Addis Ababa peace terms but
yet to return to Juba – Dr. Riek Machar, have militias and government
troops as well as the SPLA-IO, the breakaway faction of the ruling
party, reportedly engaged in large scale poaching of game. The need
for meat, not just for the troops but also for sale to cash rich
buyers, as well as trophies which can be sold, were the driving motive
behind it and conservation circles have raised questions for how long
the big herds can survive under such circumstances.
Citing a number of examples was the Wildlife Conservation Society a
month ago quoted to have expressed their grave concerns over incidents
of ivory smuggling, illegal mining in parks, organized trade in bush
meat and a well near invasion by military poachers into the Badingilo
Tourism, in particular wildlife based tourism, could be a major source
of revenues, jobs and foreign exchange earnings when the country
eventually returns to peace, but poaching of such a scale can well
wipe out the assets, i.e. wildlife needed to bring tourists into the
As a newly admitted member to the East African Community will South
Sudan have to underwrite regional conservation and wildlife management
policies and regulations and it is hoped that pressure from the rest
of the EAC will bring the regime in line and more energetically fight