On Friday, South Sudan became the world's newest nation. As its' population celebrates in the new capital of Juba, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is urging the newborn nation, home to the world's second largest land migration, to protect its ecosystems and rich wildlife in order to build a sustainable and forward-looking economy. South Sudan boasts an abundance of African megafauna that is becoming increasingly rare and endangered throughout much of the continent.
"South Sudan’s wildlife treasures provide an opportunity for a diverse economy based on eco-friendly tourism in the world’s newest nation. WCS is committed to working with the government of South Sudan and USAID to help manage natural resources in a sustainable way and establish protected areas. Wildlife conservation must play a vital role in the economic future of South Sudan," Steve Sanderson, WCS President and CEO, said in a press release.
According to WCS, the presence of African mammals in abundance could allow the nation to become a popular ecotourist destination. In 2009, nearby Kenya made $1 billion from tourism while Tanzania brought in $1.2 billion. Tourism, as opposed to large-scale resource extraction, is also sustainable over the long-term. Currently 98 percent of South Sudan's revenue comes from one thing: oil.
The new nation, writes Jeremy Hance of Mongobay.com, is facing an array of massive challenges, including ack of infrastructure, deep poverty, and the fear of continuing conflicts with the north.
Wildlife migrations are endangered and collapsing worldwide, especially large mammal migrations. The pronghorn migration in the US is on its last legs; the saiga antelope migration in Central Asia has collapsed over the past two decades; the caribou migration near the Arctic is plunging and even the Serengeti migration is threatened by road-building plans in Tanzania.
Image below: Tiang migration across Boma-Jonglei-Equatoria Landscape, South Sudan. Photo credit: © Paul Elkan/Wildlife Conservation Society.