NEW YORK (JUNE 12, 2007) Aerial surveys by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society confirm the existence of more than 1.2 million white-eared kob, tiang antelope and Mongalla gazelle in Southern Sudan, where wildlife was thought to have vanished as a result of decades-long conflict. Despite the war, some species of wildlife in Southern Sudan, last surveyed more than 25 years ago, have not only survived but have thrived east of the Nile River in numbers that rival those of the Serengeti.
The survey project was conducted by J. Michael Fay, a conservationist with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence; Paul Elkan, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society Southern Sudan Country Program; and Malik Marjan, a Southern Sudanese Ph.D. candidate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. They worked in cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment, Wildlife Conservation, and Tourism of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS). Funding for the project also came from USAID under the USAID/U.S. Department of Agriculture Sudan Agreement and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. After years of fighting northern Sudan, Southern Sudan formed an autonomous region as part of a 2005 peace agreement, and will hold a referendum on independence in 2011.
I have never seen wildlife like that, in such numbers, not even when flying over the mass migrations of the Serengeti, said Fay. This could represent the biggest migration of large mammals on earth.
Fay, Elkan and Marjan also report an estimated 8,000 elephants, with concentrations mainly in the Sudd, the largest freshwater wetland in Africa. They also found evidence of even larger numbers of elephants in Boma and in the Jonglei landscape. According to the World Conservation Unions African elephant database, there were no reliable records of elephants in Sudan.