(eTN) – The recent first ever showing of National Geographic’s “Great Migrations” program, filmed in the Southern Sudan, was a massive eye opener not only for the world at large but also for many residents of Eastern Africa.
Many still don’t appreciate the rich biodiversity and large numbers of game found in the Southern Sudanese 6 national parks and 13 game reserves and a few have in the past even spoken of outright “inventions” when this correspondent talked and reported, from his own experience and viewing, about the huge numbers of white-eared kobs, for instance, found migrating between Boma National Park on the border with Ethiopia and the Nile. Inspite of a decades’ long war of oppression waged upon the South by the Northern regime in Khartoum, game has not been eaten or poached out of existence, as Northern sources have often suggested, arguably to limit the tourism potential in the south. The animals have, in fact, benefitted from a strict discipline imposed by the SPLA at the time, which allowed shooting of game for food only after a process of application and approval, being foresighted enough even then to see the benefits of wildlife for a future independent Southern Sudan.
A team from National Geographic Television was in the Southern Sudan on several occasions from 2008, putting together a documentary on the wildlife migration of an estimated 800,000+ animals, and as a result, USAID and the Wildlife Conservation Society have been funding efforts to create infrastructure along those parks to gradually start the process of bringing tourists to the South, once the independence referendum has passed and a new country has been born.
Meanwhile, the film has also been used to put pressure on the government of the Southern Sudan to halt plans to lease out parts of their parks to UAE-based investors who have openly expressed their desire to turn their concessions into a hunting paradise for the rich and famous from the Gulf area, an idea which is both revolting, as well as reeking of corruption claims made by conservationists in the South Sudan and the East African region.