United States launches $7.5 million wildlife project in South Sudan

U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan, Tom Hushek on Tuesday launched a three-year $7.5 million U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) project implemented by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to conserve wildlife, natural resources and protected areas in South Sudan.

The project will reportedly also help build sustainable livelihoods and mitigate conflict in and around Boma and Badingilo national parks.

Speaking during the project launch at Boma National Park, the U.S. Ambassador said Africa's youngest nation has tremendous biological resources of national, regional, and global importance.

These include iconic species such as elephants, giraffes, buffalos, lions, leopards, and one of the world's largest antelope migrations, said Hushek.

But because South Sudan has suffered from war for most of its history, wildlife populations and habitat are under increasing pressure from poachers and traffickers, illegal charcoal production, mining, logging, and unregulated development, he added.

This new project builds on a decade of collaboration between USAID, the Wildlife Conversation Society, and local communities around Boma and Badingilo national parks that began in 2008, the U.S. embassy said in a statement.

Conservation work has seen 450 park rangers, law enforcement officers and some community members trained, seven park ranger offices and training facilities within the national parks established, according to the statement.

It pointed out that the project resulted into the mapping of South Sudan's wildlife population while 930 kilograms of ivory as well as more than 10 tons of bush meat and other illegal wildlife products have been confiscated at Juba International Airport and along the borders with Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Ethiopia.

The heart of our work in conservation is making sure that local communities in South Sudan benefit from protecting the natural resources that are their heritage, Hushek said.

The new project was launched in the presence of Boma state governor, David Yau Yau and the National Minister of Wildlife, Jemma Nunu Kumba.

Source: Radio Tamazuj

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