Biodiversity Conservation

Covering nearly three million hectares, Boma and Badingilo national parks form an integral part of a wilderness, spanning as much as 200,000 square kilometres in South Sudan and neighbouring Ethiopia. The potential for biodiversity conservation at scale across this region is endless, but so too are the challenges.

The task of establishing an effective approach to manage over two million hectares of thriving biodiversity, in a largely unknown landscape, has been mammoth.

After decades of civil unrest, there is minimal infrastructure, with limited access across the landscape and until recently, very little was known about the antelope migration or the status of other wildlife species across the two parks.

Rangers working in the control room to monitor movements across the Boma-Badingilo landscape. © Marcus Westberg

Monitoring and Surveys

During the first few months under African Parks management, reconnaissance flights revealed that Badingilo and Boma are home to wildlife in numbers far greater than previously known. Despite its turbulent history, one of the largest annual land mammal migrations in Africa – hundreds of thousands of white-eared kob, Mongalla gazelle, tiang, and bohor reedbuck moving across the land – has miraculously remained intact.

Devising sustainable management practices to protect the area’s vast numbers of wildlife is only possible once their movements are clearly understood. To achieve this, 126 individuals from 12 different species were fitted with GPS tracking collars, among them Nubian giraffe, lion, cheetah, eland, elephant and buffalo, as well as the four species of migrating antelope.

Aerial surveys will establish accurate estimates of wildlife population numbers. So far, herds of elephant, Nubian giraffe, common eland, Beisa oryx, Grant’s gazelle, Bohor reedbuck, lesser kudu, and ostrich, as well as abundant white-eared kob and Mongalla gazelle, have been found across the landscape. Herds of over 50,000 tiang have been observed moving together through the central and northern part of Badingilo, confirming healthy and abundant populations in the ecosystem.

Rangers take part in refresher and other skills training courses throughout the year. © Marcus Westberg

Conservation Law Enforcement

The challenges facing Badingilo National Park are diverse. The park is threatened by direct threats on species and habitat exacerbated by its close proximity to the national capital, Juba, and the town of Bor as well as historical unsustainable use of natural resources.

African Parks identified several measures to counteract these threats. Key among these is establishing the groundwork for effective park management. This includes creating a well-trained and equipped conservation law enforcement team to carry out monitoring, patrols and surveillance. To ensure these efforts are successful they are coordinated through close collaboration with local communities and regional authorities.

Rangers have been recruited from local communities, and have undergone the Basic Field Rangers course as well as specialised training to ensure Badingilo’s wildlife and its ecosystems are protected. A control room has been set up in Juba to monitor all movements throughout the park. Communications have been set up in key locations, ensuring regular contact across the area.