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sudan: so, the animals survived... send in the tourists

Sudan to upgrade tourism facilities after animals survive war

Jul 22, 2008

Southern Sudan plans to upgrade its tourist facilities after aerial surveys showed that millions of animals, including 8,000 elephants, in two wildlife reserves survived the nation's 21-year civil war.

The semi-autonomous country has recruited several thousand former combatants to serve as park rangers and guides in the parks, Paul Jacob Kumbo, the government's spokesman, said in an interview yesterday from the Southern Sudanese capital, Juba. Tourists have already begun visiting the nation's Boma National Park and Southern National Park.

``Aerial surveys carried out last year and this year revealed that there are many wild animals in southern Sudan,'' Kumbo said. The surveys found more than 1.3 million white-eared antelope, 8,900 buffalos, 2,800 ostriches, 1,300 reedbucks and 250,000 Mongalla gazelles, he said.

At least 1.5 million people died and 4 million more were displaced in the war between Muslim northern Sudan and the mainly Christian and animist south. The conflict ended in 2005 with the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement that has yet to be fully implemented.

``The government regards tourism as a very important foreign income earner and will do all it can to see that it booms,'' Kumbo said.

Michael Longwa, deputy director of information in the Sudanese government said the country faces challenges in upgrading its tourism facilities.

``Among the problems is clearing land mines in some parts of the national parks,'' he said in a separate interview. ``Poor roads also hinder the progress of tourism.''

Southern Sudan is improving protection of its wildlife with the assistance of the Wildlife Conservation Society, a New York- based organization, Kumbo said.

Sudan to upgrade tourism facilities after animals survive war

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