Officials from the Republic of South Sudan and United States Government on March 8 inaugurated the Boma National Park Headquarters and Boma Payam Headquarters in Jonglei State, drawing attention to the important role that the establishment of protected area management and local governance infrastructure and capacity can play in contributing to security, stability, eco-tourism development and economic growth, especially in the more isolated regions of South Sudan. This critical infrastructure was built with funding from the U.S. Government through USAID under the auspices of its partnership with the Republic of South Sudan.
Boma National Park covers 20,000 square kilometers of woodland savanna and grassland in Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria states. The park protects one of the largest intact savanna ecosystems in East Africa, hosting significant wildlife populations, including elephants, giraffe, buffalo, numerous antelopes (including white-eared kob, common eland, lesser kudu, Bohor reedbuck, gazelles, tiang, Lelwel hartebeest, Beisa oryx, and roan), and an impressive diversity of migratory birds. Boma was established as a national park in 1986, when South Sudan was part of Sudan.
Jonglei State, particularly the isolated and remote regions around Boma National Park, has been marked by ongoing instability and insecurity through the continued presence of rebel militias and fighting between ethnic groups fueled by the prevalence of small arms, lack of government presence, and inaccessibility in the rainy season, due to absence of roads.
Protected area management has a critical role to play in strengthening and supporting local government and improving security in addition to protecting biodiversity and providing a sustainable foundation for economic growth. USAID and the Wildlife Conservation Society are supporting the South Sudan Wildlife Forces to undertake law enforcement and monitoring activities and to develop security partnerships with other armed forces and local communities.
U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Susan D. Page, who represented the U.S. Government at the event, said, “It is so important that we continue to work together to preserve this area and its wildlife, which are threatened by hasty and unplanned development, or by wildlife poachers, who would ruin a world treasure for their own short-term benefit.”