JUBA — South Sudan on Tuesday banned all forms of wildlife hunting, including commercial trade in wildlife trophies, the country’s conservation agency said Tuesday.
The ministry of wildlife conservation and tourism banned wildlife products such as skin, meat, fur, bird feathers, among others.
According to the directive, any person caught dealing with wildlife products shall be arrested, prosecuted and those found guilty would face a two-year jailed term or fines.
Thomas Sebit, deputy spokesman of the ministry of wildlife conservation and tourism, said that the ban seeks to clamp down on poaching of wild animals in the country’s national parks.
He said the government recently noticed increased poaching of gazelles, buffaloes and elephants by armed groups and civilians across the country.
“There are people who are holding guns, they go to the national parks and kill our animals randomly not discriminating whether old or young. You get cooked bush meat in hotels and being sold in markets openly,” Sebit said.
War-torn South Sudan has the world’s second largest animal migration and is considered a good place for ecotourism, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
The East African country is also known for its vast swamp region of the Sudd, sometimes referred to as one of the largest wetlands in the world hosting about 400 species of birds.
However, the tourism industry made up only 1.8 percent of South Sudan’s GDP, WTTC said in 2013.
“We are urging our citizens to respect the law. These are animals for us and will help us in the future when well managed to boost our economy,” Sebit appealed.