Regular sources in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, confirmed the killing of at least 15 adult elephant along one of the key migration routes between Unity and Warrap states in late January, even though details are only now emerging.
The incident dealt another blow to the dented reputation of the country which, following over two years of civil strife, has seen poaching increase multifold as little if anything was being done to prevent poaching.
Suggestions have been made that ivory found in transit in Uganda or being confiscated in Kenya after being smuggled in via Uganda, could have come from South Sudan as well as from Eastern Congo, where poaching too is rife. Proceeds are regularly used by armed militia groups to resupply themselves and, what can only be described as a broadly lawless part of Africa, continue to roam without serious efforts to contain them and wipe them out.
In late 2015 were findings published by conservation NGO’s that the endangered forest elephant species had been sighted in South Sudan, documented through camera traps set in forests. The upswing in poaching however suggests that, considering the collapse of the economy – several major East African companies have announced their withdrawal from South Sudan due to lack of foreign exchange – blood ivory remains a valuable commodity and until a recovery of the country is underway, little attention will probably be paid to the killing of wildlife when human lives continue to be wasted through the periodic upsurge in ethnic violence.
South Sudan’s elephant population is estimated to be in the 3 – 4.000 range though the Wildlife Conservation Society has suggested the number could be as low as 2.500.