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  • on 18.06.2014
  • at 02:30 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

South Sudan’s Wildlife Become Casualties Of War and Are Killed to Feed Soldiers and Rebels 0

Juba – While South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar agreed last week to end the country’s devastating six-month conflict by forming a transitional government within the next two months, it may come too late for this country’s wildlife as conservation officials accuse fighters on both sides of engaging in killing wild animals to feed their forces.

Poaching has always been a common practice in South Sudan. But conservationists say that since the conflict between the government and forces loyal to Machar began in December 2013, there has been an upsurge in the killing and trafficking of wildlife by government and anti-government forces as well as armed civilians.

“Since the start of this conflict we have noticed that poaching has become terrible. Rebels are poaching and the government forces are also poaching because they are all fighting in rural areas and the only available food they can get is wild meat,” Lieutenant General Alfred Akuch Omoli, an advisor to South Sudan’s Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism, told IPS.

Officials say elephants are being killed for their meat and tusks while migratory animals that move in large numbers, especially the white-eared kob, the tiang (also known as the Senegal hartebeest) and reedbuck, are being killed specifically to provide bush meat.

“Our forces are also shooting wildlife animals for food. If you go from here between Mangala and Bor [just outside of the capital, Juba] you will see a lot of bush meat being sold along the road,” the director general for Wildlife in South Sudan, Philip Majak, told local radio.

The current conflict has also made it difficult for wildlife officers to stop both the government and rebel troops from poaching and is hindering their efforts to conduct routine patrols in national game parks and wildlife reserves.

“Wildlife officers have run away from their work stations, which means they can no longer conduct routine patrols to prevent poaching. So criminals and gangs can now easily kill animals in the bushes,” Omoli said.

“Things will only get better when peace is restored, fighters return to the barracks and the government disarms civilians carrying illegal guns,” he added.

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By Charlton Doki Ips Africa 

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