Our EPI Friend of the Month is Khamis Ding, Director of External Relations and Natural Resources Management of the South Sudan National Wildlife Service. South Sudan joined the EPI in 2016.
You’re a senior official with the South Sudan Wildlife Service. Were you always interested in nature conservation?
Nature conservation has been the passion of my life: I’ve spent forty years in this field.
South Sudan has known many years of conflict. Has a viable elephant population survived the years of war?
Elephant populations have drastically decreased during the long years of war. In the 1980s the estimated population was c 80,000, and our most recent estimate is c 3,000. It’s worth mentioning that there are significant areas of elephant distribution we’ve not been able to survey because of insecurity.
Given all the challenges facing South Sudan, is it difficult to convince your compatriots that nature conservation is a priority?
Nothing is impossible, but at the moment it’s not possible for us to reach all corners of the country including some important wildlife areas because of insecurity and the poor roads network. In areas under the government’s control we’ve started awareness campaigns and they’ve been successful.
What is your dream or vision for the future of South Sudan’s people and its wildlife?
South Sudan has a great future; economically, socially, culturally and in terms of biological diversity. With some necessary reforms of policies, laws, government commitment and citizens’ attitudes, South Sudan can flourish and become a leader of the wildlife tourism industry in Africa.
When you are not trying to save South Sudan’s wildlife....what is your favourite way to relax?
I will never relax until peace is attained and our National Parks and Game Reserves are working properly. Then, I will go with my family to the nearest Park to relax.