Understanding South Sudan’s once-forgotten landscape through mass wildlife monitoring
In August 2022, African Parks signed a 10-year renewable management agreement for Boma and Badingilo National Parks with the Government of the Republic of South Sudan. Since then, the task of establishing an effective approach to manage over two million hectares of thriving biodiversity, in a largely unknown landscape, has been mammoth. We sent writer and photographer, Marcus Westberg, to find out more.
Early on the 18th of April, a male white-eared kob was fitted with a tracking collar in South Sudan’s Badingilo National Park. He was the 126th animal to be collared in Badingilo and adjacent Boma National Park, marking the end of several weeks of intense, groundbreaking work in what is proving to be one of Africa’s most spectacular wilderness areas.
“The scale of this undertaking, and the amount of data we will be able to collect, is remarkable,” says Dr Richard Harvey, who led the collaring operation alongside giraffe expert, Dr Sara Ferguson.
African Parks began their tenure in Boma and Badingilo in September last year, having signed a 10-year management agreement at the request of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan. During the first few months, reconnaissance flights revealed wildlife in numbers far greater than even the most optimistic experts had predicted. Boma-Badingilo is home to hundreds of thousands of migrating antelope. At least.
“There are probably millions of white-eared kob here. Maybe two million, maybe more. And hundreds of thousands of tiang, Mongalla gazelle and reedbuck,” says Mike Fay, African Parks Regional Director and National Geographic Explorer Emeritus. Fay first visited the region in 2007. Since November 2022, he has flown 50,000 kilometres across the landscape, and believes there is nowhere else in Africa quite like it.
“No place in Africa even comes close to the intact nature of this land, the ecosystems or the wildlife here. Not even in the same ballpark.”
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