The newest nation in the world will host some of the world's most amazing wildlife.
South Sudan, a land-locked country in East Africa, celebrated its independence July 9 from the rest of Sudan. The new country already has a wealth of wildlife, however, including one of the world's longest animal migrations , which could be a boon to the nation's economy.
To help ensure the country's animals remain a spectacular resource, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has collaborated with South Sudan's governmenton protected area management and land-use planning.
Mammal migrations in South Sudan rival those of the Serengeti . They have survived decades of war, and vast tracts of savannas and wetlands remain largely intact, according to the WCS. South Sudan boasts some of the most spectacular and important wildlife populations in Africa. Boma National Parknear the border with Ethiopia, the Sudd wetland and Southern National Park near the border with Congo are home to hartebeest, kob and topi (antelope species ), buffalo,elephants, giraffes and lions.
The southeast part of the country supports the world's second-largest terrestrial wildlife migration of about 1.3 million white-eared kob, tiang and reedbuck antelopes and Mongalla gazelle.
"South Sudan's wildlife treasures provide an opportunity for a diverse economy based on eco-friendly tourism in the world's newest nation," said Steve Sanderson, WCS president.
South Sudan's wildlife migrations provide the opportunity to create a thriving tourism industry if properly managed, the WCS says. In neighboring Kenya, tourism contributed an estimated $1 billion to the national economy in 2009. In Tanzania, tourism accounted for close to $1.2 billion in the same year.
Today, oil exploration in South Sudan accounts for roughly 98 percent of the region's revenues.