Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 365–380 | Cite as

Armed conflict and development in South Sudan threatens some of Africa’s longest and largest ungulate migrations

  • Malik D. Morjan
  • Nathaniel D. RaylEmail author
  • Paul W. Elkan
  • James C. Deutsch
  • M. Blake Henke
  • Todd K. Fuller
Original Paper


Many terrestrial mammalian migrations are disappearing before they are documented. The Boma-Jonglei ecosystem in South Sudan, one of the world’s poorest and most conflicted countries, contains some of the largest, longest, and least studied ungulate migrations. A rapidly increasing human population, ongoing armed conflict, and looming oil development, however, threatens the migration of 800,000 white-eared kob (Kobus kob leucotis) and 160,000 tiang (Damaliscus lunatus tiang) in this system. To document these migrations and identify potential conflicts, we examined the movements of ungulates in the Boma-Jonglei ecosystem using data from 14 collared individuals (12 kob, 2 tiang). We identified two separate dry season ranges of kob; from each, kob initiated migration with the onset of the rainy season, and migrated to a shared rainy season range also shared by the tiang. The maximum straight-line distance between telemetry locations of kob (399 km) and tiang (298 km) on their dry and rainy season ranges indicated these migrations were among the longest in Africa. The kob range was 68,805 km2, 29% of which was within national parks and 72% within leased oil concessions (54–83% of parks overlap with potential oil concessions). The range of the tiang (35,992 km2) occurred almost entirely (> 99%) within land leased to oil companies. Because disruption or elimination of these migrations will inevitably lead to significant population reductions, maintenance of the migration routes we identified through additional protection measures are essential to conserve one of the largest ungulate aggregations in the world.


Armed conflict Brownian bridge movement model Damaliscus lunatus tiang Kobus kob leucotis Migration routes Net squared displacement 



This work was supported in a variety of ways by the Wildlife Conservation Society, a Beinecke African Scholarship, The National Geographic Society, The Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism of the Government of South Sudan, the Boma Wildlife Training Centre, the staffs of Boma National Park and Nimule Park Lodge, USAID and USDA in South Sudan, North Star Science and Technology, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and many colleagues and friends. We thank Bethany Bradley and David Wattles for helpful discussions about this work. We thank Thomas Morrison and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments that improved this manuscript.

Supplementary material

10531_2017_1440_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 15 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malik D. Morjan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nathaniel D. Rayl
    • 1
    • 6
    Email author
  • Paul W. Elkan
    • 3
  • James C. Deutsch
    • 3
    • 4
  • M. Blake Henke
    • 5
  • Todd K. Fuller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental ConservationUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  2. 2.Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and TourismJubaSouth Sudan
  3. 3.Wildlife Conservation SocietyBronxUSA
  4. 4.Vulcan IncSeattleUSA
  5. 5.North Star Science and TechnologyLLCKing GeorgeUSA
  6. 6.U.S. Geological SurveyNorthern Rocky Mountain Science CenterBozemanUSA

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