Juba – The governor of South Sudan’s Jonglei, Kuol Manyang Juuk, has called for preservation of wildlife in eight month old country arguing that if it is properly preserved tourism could be a way to diversify the economy away from oil.
South Sudan relied on oil for 98% of its government spending until it shut down oil production in February as a result of its ongoing row with Sudan over transit fees. Later this month Juba is hosting a foreign investment summit to encourage investment in the agriculture and energy sectors.
“Wildlife is an abundant resource in South Sudan that we have to preserve and use as a source of income. Oil will one day finish, but tourism will continue forever if we maintain our wildlife,” said Governor Juuk said on Saturday.
Juuk, whose speech at the inauguration ceremony of Boma National Park headquarters was broadcast live on South Sudan national TV, described wildlife as the “hidden jewel” of South Sudan. He added that establishing and strengthening wildlife management and the presence of government forces will help bring security to the area.
Insecurity is a major problem in the young country caused by cattle raiding, banditry, and various rebel groups.
Juuk said that the establishment of the nature reserves would contribute to building local infrastructure and government contributing to security, stability, eco-tourism development and economic growth, especially in the more isolated regions of South Sudan.
Gabriel Changson Chang, South Sudan’s Minister for Wildlife Conservation and Touism, said: “Boma National Park, with its wildlife and scenic attractions, is a key site for initial tourism development in South Sudan. The opening of the park headquarters infrastructure marks a major step in protecting the wildlife resource and providing the foundation for attracting investors to develop tourism facilities at Boma National Park and throughout the country.”
US Ambassador to South Sudan Susan D. Page said that “the development of this kind of infrastructure is part of the US effort to support stability, economic prosperity, and sustainable development in South Sudan. The infrastructure will strengthen the government’s ability to provide security for the citizens of Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria States and will help protect one of the largest intact savannah ecosystems in East Africa.”
“The opening of Boma National Park headquarters is another major step toward establishing a functioning network of national parks and reserves across South Sudan, which will provide protection for the country’s exceptional wildlife and great migrations, and provide a platform for creating partnerships to improve security–for the benefit of both wildlife and local communities,” added Paul Elkan, Wildlife Conservation Society’s South Sudan Director.
Senior representatives from the US Government joined senior Government of South Sudan officials, representatives of Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria states, international partners, local government representatives, and community leaders to mark the inauguration of the Boma National Park and Payam Headquarters, and to recognise the importance of such developments for establishing security and promoting economic growth in South Sudan.
Boma National Park, which was established in 1986 is located one the border between Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria States, as well as Ethiopia to the east. The area is an important center for cross-border trade and socio cultural relationships.
The building of the new headquarters to run the national park was funded by USAID, and is one of the first structure of non-local construction to be built in the area.
The headquarters building provides a secure office space and meeting area for payam authorities, while the installation of a high-frequency radio, along with other communications and transportation equipment, has enabled Boma Administration staff to remain in close contact with the Pibor County government and Jonglei State authorities.
Earlier, Gabriel Changson commended US government for increasing the capacity of Pibor County’s local government structures in order to improve the government’s ability to prevent and halt cattle raiding and revenge attacks.
Other Payam [district] headquarters are being constructed in Lekuangole and Gumuruk Payams in Pibor County.
Pibor County and other areas of Jonglei State have been declared a disaster area with major cattle raids and counter attacks affected over 120,000 people since December 2011.
The US funded project aims at establishing the foundations for biodiversity conservation and land-use management; build capacity of government, civil society, and communities for natural resource management; reduce conflict; and improve security.