The U.S government has launched a $7.5 million project to support conservation of wildlife, natural resources and protected areas in South Sudan.
The funds that will be managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society will enable the project build sustainable livelihoods and mitigate conflict in and around Boma and Badingilo national parks.
Tom Hushek, U.S Ambassador to South Sudan, who launched the USAID funded project on Tuesday said the financial package will also seek to address the increasing pressure on wildlife -from poachers and traffickers, and the unregulated developments in the parks and reserves.
In 2017, the government of South Sudan called for a special care in protecting endangered animals.
Read related story: https://eyeradio.org/min-wildlife-raises-alarm-endangered-species-south-sudan/
It said 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.
The endangered species also include Black and white Rhinos and lions and African leopard.
“South Sudan has tremendous biological resources of national, regional, and global importance. These include iconic species such as elephants, giraffes, buffalos, lions, leopards, and one of the world’s largest antelope migrations,” Ambassador Hushek said at the project launch at Boma National Park, Tuesday.
He said the circle of violence in South Sudan has afflicted much pressure on the wildlife populations and habitat due to the reliance of the locals on bush meat, and illegal charcoal production.
Ambassador Hushek added that mining, and logging also contribute to the scarcity of wild animals in the forests and bushes.
“The heart of our work in conservation is making sure that local communities in South Sudan benefit from protecting the natural resources that are their heritage,” he said.
The new project launched in the presence of Buma state governor, David Yau Yau and the Minister of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism, Jemma Nunu –will benefit communities around Boma and Badingilo national parks.
The collaboration between the USAID, the Wildlife Conservation Society and locals in the area begun in 2008, and has so far benefited more than 450 park rangers -trained to enforce the protection of wildlife.
“Since 2012, law enforcement have made more than 100 arrests and 9 criminal prosecutions for poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking,” a statement by the U.S embassy notes.
The project also resulted into the mapping of South Sudan’s wildlife population, including assessing the state of wildlife during and after conflicts. Seven park ranger offices and trained facilities have been established within the national parks.
These trainings and institutional set up have so far resulted into prompt detection of illegal poaching and halting transfer of wild products across the borders.
“930 kilograms of ivory and more than 10 tons of bush meat and other illegal wildlife products have been confiscated at Juba International Airport and along the borders with Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ethiopia,” the statement reads.
Experts believe that the proper management of game reserves and the protection of wild animals will attract tourists into the country.
To do that, the project has engaged local organizations to empower communities around the parks with skills to seek alternative sources of income and food.
“Four local community organizations have been established in Pochalla, Gemeiza, Lafon and Nyat to provide livelihood activities, including sustainable fishing, poultry, conservation gardening and art craft benefiting at least 25,000 people,” the statement said.
Last month, 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.
Read related story: https://eyeradio.org/project-to-double-the-number-of-lions-underway-wcs/
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