Aug 14, 2018 | Updated: 01:42 PM EDT

Wildlife of South Sudan At Risk Due To Rising Poaching, Trafficking Threats

May 25, 2017 05:31 PM EDT

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Despite South Sudan's wildlife surviving on the current civil war, activities that are hurting their survivability such as poaching, commercial wildlife trafficking, are increasing. Environmental issues like illegal mining, timber harvesting, and charcoal production are also on the rise.

In an article published in Eureka Alert, it indicates in the first aerial assessment of South Sudan's wildlife that the impact was not harsh. The wildlife of the country, which is home to the second-largest land mammal migration, includes species with global importance like elephant, lion, giraffe, and hippopotamus.

In a report released by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), they have conducted an aerial survey in 2015 to 2016 as a project powered by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and part of the Great Elephant Census, which is funded by Microsoft founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen.

The aerial survey covered the South Sudan areas of Boma, Badingilo, Nimule, Southern, Shambe National Parks, and the proposed protected area of Loelle. The combination of aerial survey methods was employed with a total of 17,934 km flown or 98 hours of flight time and an estimated 20,845 square km surveyed systematically.

The survey also confirmed at least 730 elephants in the surveyed zone. However, an estimated 50 percent of previously documented important wildlife areas like the northern part of South Sudan's vast wetland were inaccessible due to a conflict which prevents them from having a comprehensive assessment.

In the earlier surveys and applied research conducted by the WCS and the South Sudan Wildlife Service have estimated that an elephant population of about 2,300 in the country prior to the civil war went down from an estimated 79,000 in the 70's. Also, elephants continue to face expanded threats.

It was also observed that giraffes in South Sudan had a very low numbers. They are down from about 13,000 in the early 80's to just hundreds remaining as they are in the risk of local extinction. Migratory tiang and other forms of antelopes are also vulnerable because of the annual migration between Badingilo National Park and the Sudd.

"Some of these species have become endangered asI want to appeal to the people of South Sudan to take special care in protecting these endangered animals so that the next generation will continue to benefit from their presence," Jemma Nunu Kumba, Minister, Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism, has said. She also said that this wildlife would serve as an ecotourism for the country.

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