KAMPALA, Uganda (eTN) – It is understood from sources at the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife Conservation and Tourism in Juba that the long awaited new tourism policy is now on the final stretch towards completion. The effort had suffered a set back earlier in the year when Dr. Yakobo Moyini, one of the main consultants working on the project, passed away. He had prior to this work completed a comprehensive wildlife policy for Southern Sudan, before embarking with two other associates on the consultative and preparation stages for the new tourism policy.
Southern Sudan is emerging from decades of conflict waged upon them by a militant Arabic Khartoum regime hostile to the African South (and to African Darfur for that matter), which destroyed much of the infrastructure and of course kept tourists away from the national parks. Six of the former national parks have since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army (SPLA) and the Khartoum regime signed in early 2005 in Naivasha/Kenya) been restored and the inventories of game on site taken so far are better than many experts dared to expect.
The Southern Sudan Council of Ministers (cabinet) has also decreed a moratorium on hunting, until it has been ascertained by experts what wildlife stocks exist and which, if any species, may become part of a hunting pilot project in areas, which were formerly designated as “hunting blocks.”
The Southern Sudan, besides wildlife-based attractions, is also home to many rivers, including the Nile, where white water rafting and other river based adventure activities can take place, which would be a natural extension from upstream Uganda, where it has become big business. The Southern Sudan also contains the “Sudd,” arguably the world’s most extensive wetland along the river Nile, all of which is a birdwatchers paradise and the cultural variety across the Southern tribes is legendary in any case.
Security has also improved considerably since hostilities ceased, more so after the combined forces of the Uganda Peoples Defence Force (UPDF) and the SPLA pushed the last remnants of the Lord’s Resistance Army first into a full flight withdrawal to the Congo and then further into the Central African Republic. While ‘the butcher of the North’, one Joseph Kony, has failed to sign a peace accord earlier in the year, the International Criminal Court insists that it will execute arrest warrants against him and his remaining henchmen also indicted for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during his senseless rebellion. However, many of Kony’s followers have since come out from the bush and accepted an amnesty program by the Ugandan government, effectively bringing peace back to the North of Uganda and the South of the Sudan.
Road works are in progress from Juba along the main two traffic arteries towards the Ugandan border, presently a supply lifeline for Southern Sudan, but one of the roads also passes by the Nimule National Park, which has already been identified as a main pillar in restoring all facets of tourism to the Southern Sudan in coming years. Watch this space for emerging news.