National Geographic : 2010 Nov
• They became, in the minds of the southern Sudanese, fellow displaced victims of war. e more sedentary animals---bu alo, hartebeests, gira es---were nearly wiped out. Soldiers hunt- ed and ate the animals, but they also had rules: ey would not shoot males, and they would try to avoid hunting any species to extinction. e war dragged on. By the time it ended, no one knew how many animals remained or would return. , three men---Paul Elkan, an American biologist who directs the Wildlife Con- servation Society (WCS) program in southern Sudan, J. Michael Fay, also with WCS, and Malik Marjan, a southern Sudanese doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst---criss- crossed the landscape in a small plane, counting animals for the rst time in decades. "It was stun- ning," Elkan told me. " ree-quarters of a million kob. Nearly 300,000 Mongalla gazelles. More than 150,000 tiang. Six thousand elephants." He came to a realization: " is is, hands down, one of the most important wild habitats in Africa." WCS's aerial surveys have since been expanded to monitor wildlife, livestock, and human activity throughout much of southern Sudan. Elkan re- cently piloted his Cessna north of Juba, along the White Nile, then east into an immense territory that reached toward the sunrise. For hours we ew over untouched land. Rivers spontaneously surge here in the wet season, and wild res rage As the dry season peaks and the waters in the Sudd recede, people at a Dinka shing camp hunt anything they can nd, like this Nile lechwe laid out on a hippo skin. ey dry the meat on wooden racks. Authorities generally overlook subsistence hunting. Commercial poachers take advantage of the vast wilderness (map, right) to evade capture.