TORIT, 04 March 2017 [Gurtong] – The theme of this year's World Wildlife Day is "Listen to the Young Voices." Youth in South Sudan play an important role in protecting the nation's heritage by fighting poaching and illegal trade in wildlife.
In a press release issued on Friday, the US stated that as conflict, food insecurity and economic hardship threaten the well-being of the people of South Sudan, so do these conditions threaten the country's wildlife populations by exacerbating illicit trade in bush meat, rare species and ivory.
The statement said although the territory of South Sudan is host to one of the world's largest mammal migrations, there has been a worrisome reduction in many of the country's wildlife populations.
According to the internationally renowned Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) partner, South Sudan has been suffering from the following losses since the 1970s:
* Giraffes declined 99.7 percent, from 100,000 to 300
* Elephants declined 97 percent, from 80,000 to fewer than 2,500
* Tiang antelope declined 92 percent, from 2 million to 155,000
* Mongalla gazelles declined 69 percent, from 900,000 to 275,000
* White-eared kob antelope declined 20 percent, from 1 million to 800,000
The US government reiterated that to combat these negative trends, the U.S. Government, through USAID and its WCS partner, has since 2008 provided substantial technical and financial support to the Ministry of Wildlife and Natural Resources to combat poaching and illicit wildlife trafficking in South Sudan.
This valuable and longstanding partnership includes assistance to local communities to develop and utilize livestock management practices. These practices help reduce inter-communal conflict, including disputes over grazing areas or land encroachment.
With USAID's support, WCS has also mapped South Sudan's wildlife population, trained park rangers and educated communities on the importance of wildlife protection.
"South Sudan's wildlife populations are a priceless resource for the country and for our shared global heritage," said U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Molly Phee. "Wildlife stock levels, already dangerously low in 2013, have suffered from additional death and displacement as a result of renewed internal conflict. We are proud of our partnership with the Ministry and local communities, and remain committed to collaboration on efforts to protect these wildlife populations. In support of this year's theme, we call on the youth of South Sudan, who will inherit this extraordinary legacy, to join the effort to safeguard the country's unique biodiversity."