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YEI - 21 Jul 2016

Poaching on rise at Lantoto National Park; ten elephants dead

Wildlife authorities in Yei River State say the rate of illegal hunting of animal species at Lantoto National Game Park is on the increase for the last few months.

The game park director colonel Natalino Lasuba said in the month of June alone at least ten elephants as well as giraffes and zebras were illegally killed by armed poachers.

“They killed about ten elephants,” he said.

He said the game park wardens have arrested some of the poachers who are currently undergoing thorough investigation. The director also said that such incidents are affecting the peaceful existence of animals at the park.

“You know animals are like people and when there is continuous presence of fighting and hunting down in the country, they tend to run away in search of peaceful environment and I would like to inform you that most of our valuable animal varieties are now migrating to the neighbouring Garamba National game park of Congo,” he said.

The colonel also pointed to challenges facing the park rangers including heavy rains, lack of logistical and communication equipment, inadequate numbers, feeding, and clashes with armed poachers.

“Of recent we received information that some poachers entered into Lantoto and killed ten elephants. These poachers went and wounded some rangers in Congo and in response the Congolese soldiers wounded one of them and captured rifles from them. Some suspects were arrested and they are pending investigation,” he told Radio Tamazuj.

“The struggle for apprehending these poachers is still going on.”

Meanwhile a human rights and peace activist Dara Felix says peace and stability will be the only solution to problems at the park. Dara said when there is peace the population will concentrate on self-empowerment in agriculture, other businesses, education and development with less attention to trade in animal poaching.

“I would like to give you an example here — if you go to Uganda game parks and zoos dangerous animals like lions are becoming friends to human beings and birds can fly freely and stay together with people at home because of the presence of peace and stability in that region,” said Dara.

Lantoto is one of six national game parks in South Sudan. It is located in Yei River County of Central Equatoria State. The park was established in 1986 with an area size of 760 square kilometres bordering Garamba National Game Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The park has animal varieties which could be used for tourism and attract researchers if they are well preserved.