• New nation’s independence on July 9th represents hope for the world’s second largest terrestrial migration
  • With USAID support, WCS is working with South Sudan’s government on protected area management and land-use planning

NEW YORK (July 8, 2011)
– As South Sudan officially breaks away to form a new nation on July 9, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) emphasizes that the vast wildlife and habitat resources of this fledgling country remain critical in securing its economic future. WCS, the leading conservation organization working in South Sudan, has collaborated with the government and local stakeholders to establish a foundation for natural-resource management, land-use planning, and conservation to reduce conflict and catalyze economic development.

Surveys conducted by WCS with the government of South Sudan have found that mammal migrations rivaling those of the Serengeti survived decades of war, and vast tracts of savannas and wetlands remain largely intact. South Sudan boasts some of the most spectacular and important wildlife populations in Africa and supports the world’s second-largest terrestrial wildlife migration of some 1.3 million white-eared kob, tiang antelope, Mongalla gazelle, and reedbuck.

Steve Sanderson, WCS President and CEO, said: “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.”

South Sudan’s wildlife migrations provide the opportunity to create a thriving tourism industry, but the country’s natural endowment must be coupled with wise natural resource management and infrastructure for national parks. In neighboring Kenya, tourism contributed an estimated $1 billion to the national economy in 2009. In Tanzania, tourism accounted for close to $1.2 billion in revenue in the same year.

Today, oil exploration in South Sudan accounts for roughly 98 percent of the region's revenues; however, diversified economic sectors that do not rely solely on natural resource extraction are needed for healthy economic development. The government of South Sudan, WCS, and USAID have worked with local stakeholders to establish a foundation for conservation and natural-resource management as part of the region’s development strategy.

U.S. government support remains critical to the development of South Sudan and is vital for American national security and economic interests. Foreign assistance through USAID in areas such as natural resource and protected area management, education, and job creation help to stabilize volatile regions and prevent conflicts. Stabilization and development create more prosperous economies and open up potential trade markets for U.S. goods. USAID’s focus on global health, food security, and climate change serve to reinforce these goals of protecting economic and national security.

Chip Weiskotten: (1-202-624-8172; cweiskotten@wcs.org)
Stephen Sautner: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to: www.wcs.org/donation