. Earth Science News .

South Sudans wild hope for the future
by Staff Writers
Bala Pools, Sudan (AFP) July 8, 2011

Rights group urges release of Guinean ex-military chief
Conakry (AFP) July 7, 2011 - An alliance of human rights groups on Thursday slammed the "illegal arrest and detention" of Colonel Moussa Keita, a former member of the military junta which led Guinea for a year until December 2009.

Nouha Traore, a top official of the Coordination of Organisations Defending Human Rights (CODDH), expressed "deep concern over the illegal arrest and detention" of Keita and demanded his release.

Keita, an ally of the late captain Moussa Dadis Camara's military junta, was picked up "by people in civilian clothes" in Conakry nine days ago, according to a family member.

Traore said Keita was being held "in a secret location and out of reach of his family".

Keita was the permanent secretary of the political wing of a military junta which took power in December 2008 when longtime ruler Lansana Conte died.

In recent weeks Keita has made statements to local media accusing General Sekouba Konate -- head of a transition government put in place after Camara was shot by a close aide - of embezzling $20 million (14 million euros).

Konate is hailed as leading the poor west African nation to its first democratic vote in half a century, in which Alpha Conde was declared president in November 2010.

Its home to the worlds second largest migration of animals, an epic movement of antelope through some of Africas most pristine wildernesses.

But there is not a single tourist in the vast expanse and stunning scenery of Badingilo National Park to see it -- not yet, anyway.

South Sudan, which will become the worlds newest nation on Saturday, is opening up after decades of brutal war, which killed some two million people and left its infrastructure in ruins.

Wildlife also suffered but many populations did survive, and now the fledgling government is working to conserve and develop what remains.

"People were amazed when it was found after the peace signed in 2005, that the wonderful wildlife that had survived was so great," said General Alfred Akwoch, adviser to the souths wildlife, conservation and tourism ministry.

"The nature and wildlife is great treasure to conserve," he added, speaking at a ceremony on Wednesday for the opening of the first infrastructure to be built for Badingilo park -- an administrative headquarters.

Women ululated and men danced as the ribbon was cut to mark the centres opening, set in a wooded area close to the White Nile river, some 85 kilometres (53 miles) north of the south's capital Juba.

"There are no wildlife migrations like this in Africa, apart from the wildebeest migration in Tanzania and Kenya," Akwoch said.

Badingilo is home to giant herds of antelope -- including tiang, white-eared kob and reedbuck -- as well as giraffe, lion, cheetah and vast bird populations.

"South Sudan is blessed," said Paul Elkan, who heads the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in the south, which is supporting government efforts to set up parks.

"If well managed, and with proper care, it could become the largest migration," he added.

The WCS has been gathering data on animal movements, including via aerial surveys and tagging through electronic collars.

"We found that the years of war had also created some buffers" for the animals, Elkan said.

Badingilo park, vibrant green from recent rains, stretches over 10,000 square kilometres (2,470 square miles).

But the wilderness spreads much further -- it is the largest area of intact savannah eco-system left in east Africa -- and an extension of the park by up to three times its current size has been proposed.

Nor is it the only park: the south has 16 national parks or protected reserve areas, one of them alone, Southern National Park, the size of Rwanda, Elkan said.

Large herds of elephant are also found in the souths Sudd swamp, the largest wetland in Africa, while there are lush jungle areas along the border with DR Congo.

But officials and experts hope that conserving the wildlife will not simply benefit animals.

Discovering the "immensity and magnitude" of the wildlife population was "like striking gold," said William Hammink, country director of the US Agency for International Development, which is supporting the park development in the hope of boosting "security, stability and economic growth."

The local communities said they are also behind the work, hoping that development will aid them.

"If the animals are a help to us, we will be good to them," said Augustino Kenyi, a local elder from the Mundari ethnic group, a cattle-herding people.

"If the park can bring in work, security to stop the robbers, and bring us schools then that is something good."

Hammink noted the importance of building up the economy of the grossly impoverished and aid-reliant souths economy for when the oil runs out.

Some 98 percent of the Juba government's budget comes from oil revenues, but current estimates suggest production could decline within the next two decades.

Wildlife conservation will require difficult decisions in the balance of land use too.

Oil reserves and valuable minerals also remain a potential major challenge, with the park lying within the concession of French oil-giant Total.

A senior Total representative was a guest of honour at the headquarters opening ceremony, but was not authorised to speak to the media.

Conservationists hope to work "in partnership" with such companies to ensure effective natural resource management, Elkan said.

There are other problems too: development will bring new roads, and the souths wildlife forces already struggle to combat commercial poaching of bush meat such as antelope along the dirt track highway on the edge of the park.

Nor will tourists arrive in large numbers anytime soon: the south remains conflict-ridden, with more than 2,300 people killed in violent clashes across the south this year alone.

But once camping sites or accommodation have been set up, the park is near enough for weekend visits for the legions of aid workers based in Juba.

However, a holiday here will not be for the faint-hearted, light of pocket or unprepared -- the two-hour drive from Juba is on a dirt track, in places lined with landmine clearance signs.

But there is both potential and interest. Jonathan Wright, owner of Wildplaces Africa, a Ugandan-based safari company specialising in high-end clients, is in negotiations to begin tours.

"What appeals to me is the sheer scale of the vast area, with stunning scenery and relatively little disturbance," said Wright.

"If they continue to build up the conservation efforts, in 10 to 20 years the scale of the parks here will rival any in Africa."

But it will still be only for the adventurous for some time to come.

"If your aeroplane went down out there it could take two months to walk out," Wright said, with a broad smile. "For me, thats exactly the appeal."

Related Links
Africa News - Resources, Health, Food

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

Outgoing UN mission urges end to Sudan conflict
Khartoum (AFP) July 7, 2011 - The UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan on Thursday called on the warring parties in South Kordofan to end their conflict, just three days before it begins its official withdrawal from the embattled state.

The UN chief's Special Representative for Sudan Haile Menkerios also underlined the failure of north and south Sudan to implement all the provisions of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the 22-year conflict between Khartoum and the former southern rebels (SPLM).

"A new conflict has started in early June in Southern Kordofan with extremely worrying consequences for the civilian population," he told reporters in Khartoum, speaking less than 48 hours before southern independence.

"I can only urge the government of Sudan and the SPLM North to display the same leadership that allowed the end of the north-south war, to rapidly end this new confrontation, cease hostilities and resolve all pending disputes through dialogue."

The United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), which was set up under the CPA to support its implementation, has nearly 10,000 peacekeeping soldiers, deployed in north and south Sudan.

But the army has effectively prevented the beleaguered peacekeeping force from playing any effective role in dousing the conflict in the ethnically divided northern state of South Kordofan, which erupted a month ago between government forces and militia aligned to ex-rebel army the SPLA.

Since May, the Sudanese government has repeatedly said that it wants the mission to leave when its mandate expires, along with the CPA, on July 9, although it will continue operating in the south, and the UN agencies will remain in the north.

The United States said on Thursday that maintaining a UN peacekeeping presence in South Kordofan state is vital.

"It's vital that the United Nations be allowed to maintain a full peacekeeping presence in these areas for an additional period of time in order to facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid, support the implementation of any cessation of hostilities agreement, and vitally to protect civilians," Washington's UN envoy Susan Rice told reporters.

Menkerios said that despite "very significant progress" in the negotiations between north and south on outstanding post-separation arrangements, much remained unresolved, including the future status of Abyei.

"The Abyei dispute is not resolved... the border is not demarcated and the popular consultations destined to inform further governance reforms in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile and consolidate the peace process in the two states, have not been concluded," he said.

Both states have a large number of SPLM supporters, and the fighting in South Kordofan, alongside bitter north-south disagreement over Abyei and other post-secession issues, including the key oil sector, have soured the atmosphere ahead of partition.

. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Ivorian president names ex-rebel general as army head
Abidjan (AFP) July 7, 2011
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara has named General Soumaila Bakayoko, the former rebel military chief, as head of the country's newly integrated army, authorities said Thursday. A joint statement from the defence and interior ministries said Bakayoko was appointed chief of staff of the Ivory Coast Republican Forces (ICRF). The ICRF will merge forces loyal to Ouattara and the former De ... read more

Japan says plant clean-up will take decades

Japan groups alarmed by radioactive soil

Japan minister quits over gaffe in fresh blow to PM

Passer-by saves China toddler in 10-storey fall

High levels of caesium found in Fukushima beef

EU task force on raw materials sought

Apple fires back in patent war with Samsung

China accused of rushing bridge opening

US senators seek safeguards on Mekong dams

Tuna species urgently need protection: IUCN

Fewer bites for Philippine fishermen

Beijing halts sales of tainted bottled water

Russia to claim Arctic border expansion

Ocean currents speed melting of Antarctic ice

Greenland ice melts most in half-century: US

NASA to embark on last leg of Arctic sea study

EU considers modified crop bans

French oyster farmers return favour to Japan

Down-under digestive microbes could help lower methane gas from livestock

EU bans imports of Egyptian seeds

Chile volcano grounds flights in Argentina, Uruguay

Ash from Mount Etna closes Italian airport

Third hurricane of eastern Pacific season forms

Another Iceland volcano stirs, causing flooding: official

South Sudans wild hope for the future

Ivorian president names ex-rebel general as army head

DR. Congo colonel accused of mass rape surrenders: military

S. Sudan resources raise investor hopes

Surgeons implant first synthetic organ

Australia moves on head-covering laws

Clues to why 'they' all look alike

Finding showing human ancestor older than previously thought offers new insights into evolution

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement