The new Boma-Badingilo Landscape program was launched by the US Government, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Government of South Sudan, and Local Community Representatives, on June 18th, 2019 at the Boma National Park Headquarters, South Sudan.  The new three-year Boma-Badingilo Landscape program, funded with US$7.6 million from USAID and US$1.5 million mobilized by WCS and other donors, continues the work and builds upon the successes achieved in 2008-2018 through the USAID WCS partnership for the Boma-Jonglei-Equatoria Landscape. WCS will continue to implement the new program in collaboration with the protected area authorities, local communities, community based organizations, and other natural resource management, conflict mitigation, development, and humanitarian actors in the landscape. The program aims to ensure effective conservation of key wildlife species and habitat, improve security and mitigate conflicts, enhance sustainable and resilient livelihoods for local communities within the Boma-Badingilo Landscape, and build partnerships with other programs and initiatives to multiply positive impacts for people and wildlife.

The Boma-Bandingilo Landscape of South Sudan is among the most outstanding biodiversity areas in Africa, covering 95,000 km² of largely intact savanna and wood land habitat in the core of the broader Boma-Jonglei-Equatoria Landscape. The area includes Boma National Park and Badingilo National Park inter-linked by wildlife movement corridors, and borders key transboundary biodiversity areas. It is home to the world’s second largest land mammal migration of more > 1.3 million  white-eared kob, Mongalla gazelle and tiang, and endangered species including elephant, Nubian giraffe, lion, and African wild dog populations. Key habitats include the largest intact savanna remaining in Eastern Africa, wetlands and woodlands. The landscape’s ecosystems and ecosystem services support the livelihoods of thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on pastoralism and agro-pastoralism.  The Boma-Badingilo Landscape has direct transboundary wildlife and human linkages with Gambella National Park and surrounding landscape in neighbouring Ethiopia.

South Sudan’s diverse ecosystems and biodiversity are experiencing human-induced local, national and transboundary pressures, exacerbated by the past five and a half years of armed and political conflict that threaten their long-term viability and ability to support resilient community livelihoods.  Foremost amongst these are poorly controlled armed groups and civilians, the availability of automatic weapons, weak natural resource governance and management, underlying tribal conflicts, the political and armed conflict, the economic crisis, and climate change. Recent and ongoing aerial and ground surveys by WCS in 2019 to assess the impact of the conflict on wildlife, habitats and human activity have revealed that despite these pressures important numbers of migrating antelopes, elephant, Nubian giraffe, eland, oryx and lions remain in the Boma-Bandingilo Landscape. If secured, these wildlife populations and intact habitat will form the foundation for long-term conservation and economic development opportunities of this remote region, including through future ecotourism development.  

The launch event was attended by the U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Mr. Tom Hushek, USAID Mission Director Mr. Jim Hope, WCS Sudano-Sahel Regional Director Dr. Paul Elkan, Boma State Governor Honourable David Yau, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism Honourable Dr. Malik Marjan, representatives of the Boma National Park authorities, South Sudan National Wildlife Service, civil society partners, local authorities, chiefs and communities.

In his remarks, the U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Mr. Hushek stressed: “South Sudan has tremendous biological resources of national, regional, and global importance. 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.”

Dr. Elkan of WCS stated: “The Boma-Badingilo Program focuses on the strategic pillars of conservation, communities and security, which will directly contribute to community empowerment, security for people and wildlife, stabilization and conflict mitigation, and sustainable economic development. This program is critical for stabilization and building peace for South Sudan and securing one of the greatest wildlife spectacles and wilderness ecosystems of the world.”

In their remarks Honourable Mr. Yau and Honourable Dr. Marjan, both expressed their appreciation to the U.S. Government, and WCS for their past and ongoing efforts to support wildlife conservation and natural resource management in South Sudan, and reiterated their support for the new program.

The representatives of the U.S. Embassy, WCS, Boma State, and the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism planted four trees, symbolizing their ongoing commitment to protect and conserve the unique wildlife and natural resources in the Boma-Badingilo Landscape and the whole of South Sudan for the benefit of current and future generations.