Boma-Jonglei, South Sudan

Natural Resources and Nation Building in the Republic of South Sudan Video
Representatives of the Government of South Sudan reflect on the importance of integrating sound natural resources management and wildlife conservation into the development goals for Africa’s newest nation.
©WCS
Boma-Jonglei Photo
The Boma-Jonglei is the largest, most intact savanna ecosystem in East Africa, home to some of the world’s greatest land mammal migrations and a WCS initiative to protect species such as the oryx (pictured here).
©Paul Elkan/Mike Fay

Located in South Sudan, this landscape encompasses Boma National Park, the proposed Bandingalo National Park, broad pasturelands and floodplains, and the Sudd, a vast area of swamp and seasonally flooded grasslands rich in wildlife including the Zeraf Reserve. Containing expansive grasslands the size of Kenya and Uganda combined, the region supports an abundance of iconic African wildlife, including elephants, giraffe, eland, lions, wild dog, buffalo, and topi (locally called “tiang”).

Boma-Jonglei is now East Africa’s largest, most intact savannah ecosystem. The landscape hosts one of the world’s greatest mammal migrations, the seasonal movement of white-eared kob and other antelope species.

Fast Facts

  • This 77,220-square-mile landscape is about the size of New York State.
  • Around 1.3 million antelopes migrate across the Boma-Jonglei Landscape taking advantage of seasonal changes in water and food supplies.
  • Among the world's most important bird areas, the Sudd Swamp is a stopover site for birds migrating between Africa and Eurasia.

Challenges

Since the signing of the peace accord in 2005, the government of South Sudan and champions of conservation have faced myriad challenges to protecting the habitats and wildlife of the region. Increased security has paved the way for renewed activity by oil companies to explore a large section of Boma-Jonglei and safari hunters looking to identify concessions. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees have returned and are building settlements and towns and seeking grazing and agricultural lands. It is not uncommon for local residents to own automatic rifles, which are often used for hunting. Road construction and water diversion projects place additional stress on the natural environment. Like all protected areas in Sudan, Boma National Park, Bandingalo Park, and Zeraf Reserve were neglected for years during the long period of civil war, and there is an urgent need to better protect these wildlife reserves and improve management of natural resources.

WCS Responds

With aerial surveys conducted in 2007, WCS discovered that vast herds and migrations of South Sudan's Boma-Jonglei Landscape remain substantially intact in spite of a half-century of civil unrest. WCS has signed agreements with the Government of South Sudan to launch a long-term conservation strategy that will safeguard the country's wildlife and wild lands, which rank among the richest in Africa. We are working with government agencies and other partners to implement community-based strategies and sound policies for managing wildlife and protected areas across South Sudan. We also work with local communities to find economic alternatives to unsustainable hunting and balance the needs of Boma-Jonglei’s local communities with those of resident wildlife. WCS also trains land-use managers to help ensure wildlife-friendly livestock management and natural resource extraction practices, while contributing to the development of pilot ecotourism programs in the region.

From the Newsroom

Gorillas, Not Grenades: Conservation as DiplomacyNovember 23, 2011

In conflict and post-conflict areas, conservation can play a key role in diplomacy by increasing stability and providing economic opportunities.

A Way Forward on the HorizonJuly 6, 2011

Conservationist Paul Elkan, director of WCS’s South Sudan Country Program, discusses his work surveying the new nation’s vast wildlife herds, identifying its key migratory corridors, and helping to ensure a future for one of the great wonders of the world.

South Sudan Works To Aid Wildlife that Survived WarJune 20, 2011

NPR reporter Frank Langfitt visits WCS’s Paul Elkan and Mike Kock on a mission to locate and radio-collar a group of elephants on the savannahs of South Sudan. The expedition is part of WCS’s work to protect the emerging nation’s remarkable wildlife from poachers and development.

Southern Sudan's Wildlife TreasureJanuary 20, 2011

In an op-ed published on CNN.com about the elections in Southern Sudan, WCS CEO and President Dr. Steven Sanderson argues that a sound conservation and resource management agenda will be a vital part of a nation-building process there.

Massive Migration RevealedJune 12, 2007

Despite a decades-old conflict, wildlife populations are thriving in Southern Sudan, where WCS conservationists have tracked astonishing numbers of antelope, elephants, and other migrants.

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