Tuesday 30 June 2015

South Sudan: Boma National Park

As water sources dry up after the seasonal rains, and then again when the seasonal rains return, enormous herds of animals migrate in Boma National Park, South Sudan. It is estimated that the migration is far greater than the famous migration of the Serengeti, where nearly 2,000,000 animals search for grazing. Every year the movement takes place at different times depending on the rains. Elephant herd from the air in Boma National Park. Some of the elephants have been radio collared so that they can be tracked. Boma National Park is the largest park or reserve in all of Africa. Many people say Kruger or Ruaha or Virunga are the largest, but no it is Boma at 22,800 square kilometers. Boma National Park is 2,280,000 hectareas (5,631,600 acres) in size. This vast park has virtually no roads or park ranger outposts. Mostly flat it is crossed by many small streams and swamps. White-eared Kob and Zebra in Boma National Park before the civil war began. Today there are few zebra, but 800,000 to 1 million Kob are estimated in the park. In South Sudan, as in the Serengeti, the migration takes place all year, it is a slow movement dependant on the grass and the rains. In March/April/May/June the animals are moving from North to South and West to East, from the Sudd flood plains and Bandigalo National Park, back into Boma National Park and Gambela Park in Ethiopia, because the rains will have started. In November/December/January the animals are moving from South to North and East to West as the dry season is well under way and the animals are searching for grass. In November/December/January the white-eared kob will be calving as they migrate north into the Sudd flood plain and west into Bandigalo National Park. The major migrating species involved are: white-eared Kob antelope, Tiang Antelope,and Mongalla Gazelle. Prior to the the war with the north there were huge herds of Zebra, these animals were considerable reduced in number. A 2008 survey estimated that there were 6,850 Elephants in the park and surrounding area adjacent to the park. The Elephants and Zebra also migrate with the water and grass. In 1982 it was estimated there were about 6000 Giraffe in the Boma Park area, by 2007 it was estimated there were only 404 Giraffe remaining. The armies used the animal to feed their soldiers during the 25 years of war with Khartoum.Mongalla Gazelle is one of the major mammals involved in the migration.The tribal people in the area are the Murle, Anyuah, Suri/Kachipo, Jie and Toposa. There will be many opportunities to visit them and view how they have retained their traditional dress, housing, adornment, tools, religious beliefs. MAJOR SPECIES OF WILDLIFE IN BOMA NATIONAL PARK In 22,800 square kilometer (2,280,000 Hectareas or 5,631,600 acres) Boma National Park the major species are: Elephant, Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Nile Crocodile, White-eared Kob, Tiang, Mongalla Gazelle, Lion, Leopard, Caracal, Serval, Cheetah, Wild Dog, Jackal, Hyaena, Nile Buffalo, Zebra, Topi, Ostrich, Grant's Gazelle, Roan, Lesser Kudu, Lelwel Hartebeest, Beisa Oryx, Derby's Eland, Bohor Reedbuck, Warthog, Olive Baboon, Vervet Monkey.Hippos exist not only in the Nile River, but in the many small rivers and swamps throught out South Sudan. Barge on the Pibor River, that flows from the NW edge of Boma Park northward to form the boundary between South Sudan and Ethiopia. The Golden Pipit is an all year resident in the park.Hemprich's Hornbill is an all year resident in the park.Ostrich can be spotted in the park.The Abyssinian Scimitarbill is an all year resident in the park. Bahr el Jebel is the Arabic name for the White Nile that flows through Northern Uganda, into South Sudan and onward to the Mediterranean Sea. Long before Europeans arrived and changed the river's name it was known as the Bahr el Jebel. This is where our safaris take place. The people still adhere to their traditional culture and way of dress, still believe in spirits and ancestor worship and all wealth is measured in cattle. The people do not understand what a tourist is and do not dress up for the tourists. The largest park in all Africa exists in South Sudan to protect the greatest migration of mammals on the earth. This vast park named Boma, has few roads and navigation is often by GPS. Bahr el Jebel or Bahr al Jabal is classic Arabic for literally "The Sea of the Mountains". This refers to the giant swamp (the size of England) known as the Sudd, that the Bahr el Jebel flows into. In Juba Arabic (the Arabic of South Sudan) Bahr el Jebel means "The River of the Mountains". Eco-tourism we practice. We use bottled gas for the majority of the cooking, we always clean our campsites leaving them as we found them and we take our trash out in bags and take it to designated sites. Wildlife Biologist have estimated by aerial counts, that more mammals migrate in South Sudan than in the famous Serengeti migration. Close on two million white-eared kob antelope, tiang antelope, mongalla gazelle, elephant, buffalo and many other species, follow the above general migration path. Basically the animals are following the grass and water from wet season to dry season as the grass recedes and then comes back. The wet season is early April to late December and the dry season is late December to late March.Tiang antelope herd in Boma National Park is enormous and exciting, South Sudan. Although the elephant herds still exist in South Sudan, ivory poaching has greatly reduced their numbers. Wildlife Conservation Society and the South Sudan Wildlife Service have radio collared some elephants to follow their migratory patterns. Paul Okia Happy Tours Africa happytoursug@gmail.com www.happytoursug.com

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