A wildlife officer displays elephant tusks and other game exhibits recovered from a suspected poacher in Torit. Illegal killing and Ivory trade might still be continuing on Elephants in South Sudan. [Gurtong]
A report from South Sudan Wildlife Conservation Society quoted by the director for Wildlife Management and Conservation in Eastern Equatoria state Ministry of Environment, Wildlife Conservation and Tourism says that in early 1980s South Sudan recorded more than 130,000 elephants but the liberation struggle which lasted for about three decades made the population of the huge mammals to be condensed to the present 5,000 mostly found in the Game Parks and National Game Reserves across the country.
Lt. Col. Charles Laku Losio attributes the population of elephants decline in the country to illicit killings of the animals for ivory trade because the long wars in the country opened a door for poachers to slaughter them easily without stoppage from any authorities.
Presently in the entire country, about 3.9 percent of elephants have survived which constitutes just about 5,000 of 130,000.
According to Lt. Col. Losio, the elephants during the long struggle movement stayed in parks in the then region of Southern Sudan with 10,940 in the Southern National Park (bordering Western Equatoria State, Lakes State and Northern Bhar el Ghazal), 2, 179 in Jonglei’s Boma National Park, 3, 938 in Sudd region (Jonglei), while the rest were in Nimule, Badingilo national Game Parks and Kidepo Game Reserve.
He discloses that Elephants inclusive of other wild animals did not have protection but became vulnerable to merciless poachers during the long civil wars in the then region of Southern Sudan until the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which gave birth to the independence of South Sudan.
He additionally attributes high demands for elephant tusk to the widespread black markets to overseas notably the Middle East, Far East, Europe, China and the West, as other factors that fuelled massive killing of elephants in South Sudan within the two and half decades.
Lt. Col. Losio says that his ministry has been putting in place a number strategies to curb poaching in the country and discloses that in Eastern Equatoria State alone, about two elephants fixed with callers were recently found death with the tusks removed in Riwoto, Kapoeta North County and Lotukei in Budi County.
The Director presumes that similar incidences of illicit killings and trade might still be continuing on Elephants and could be happening unnoticed in other nine states of South Sudan.
He expresses fears that if the practice is allowed to continue, it would one day or in the long run lead to more decrease in elephant numbers.
Written by Peter Lokale Nakimangole, Oye! News Canada, 29 April 2013