South Sudan Hero Pic

Bangangai & Bire Kpatuos, South Sudan

Community collaboration: Protecting wildlife in South Sudan's untouched terrain

Partners: Fauna & Flora and Airbus Foundation

Key Species: chimpanzee, African forest elephant, giant ground pangolins, white-bellied pangolins, spotted hyena, leopard, African golden cat, Bongo

2024 Award Winner 

Nestled within the wild expanse of South Sudan's untouched terrain are two exceptional conservation treasures: Bangangai Game Reserve and Bire Kpatuos. Despite their modest size, these protected areas provide vital habitats for numerous endangered species within their primary forests and vast grasslands. The Bangangai Forest stands as the final significant bastion of unspoiled lowland forest in South Sudan, harbouring globally significant populations of chimpanzees, giant ground pangolins, white-bellied pangolins, African elephants and leopards.

Navigating a range of challenges, from political instability to logistical hurdles, Fauna & Flora has been instrumental in safeguarding these areas for over a decade against the looming threats of exploitation, particularly from poaching activities. Despite the vibrant array of life here, it faces persistent challenges posed by poverty-driven poaching and the encroachment of migratory pastoral groups. 

In response, efforts are underway to collaborate with surrounding communities to establish a community conservation area (CCA) as a protective buffer zone for the reserves, providing a physical barrier between the core reserves and external threats. 

Satellite eyes on the land to map biodiversity landscapes

As part of this ambition, Fauna & Flora is using 50 cm imagery donated by the Airbus Foundation, and funding and technical support from the Connected Conservation Foundation, to conduct a comprehensive landscape-level assessment to map land cover, analyse potential deforestation drivers and evaluate the connectivity of these precious ecosystems.

Through the lens of satellite imagery, Fauna & Flora's analytics team will unveil intricate details of the habitats and corridors most important to biodiversity living here. Identifying core forest patches and critical connectivity pathways that underpin the survival of countless species and support the CCA. 

Translating data into action 

Rooted in collaboration with local communities, findings will inform actionable strategies to help the growing human population co-exist with the wildlife, such as supporting communities to adopt natural resource management practices that improve their livelihoods while supporting conservation goals. 

Navigating the unknown

Drawing upon decades of experience in conflict-affected regions, the organisation has built up a wealth of trust and resilience in the face of adversity. Through partnership with the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism and the communities of South Sudan, Fauna & Flora endeavours to turn these protected areas into beacons of environmental stewardship and socioeconomic empowerment.

Image credits: Header, group photo, forest & camera trap footage (C) Fauna & Flora. Chimpanzees (C) Gary Sand Wales

The Bangangai Forest Remains The Last Important Stronghold Of Untouched Lowland Forest In South Sudan, Hosting Globally Important Chimpanzee Populations (2)
The Team Will Use Their Discoveries To Develop Strategies That Promote Coexistence Between The Expanding Human Population And Wildlife
Despite The Ravages Of War, South Sudan Is Home To Expansive, Intact Habitats
Multiple Camera Traps Scattered Across The Sanctuary Are Collecting Data On Various Species

Getting access to cutting-edge satellite imagery for this corner of the world is so interesting and important. It will allow Fauna & Flora to identify risks and opportunities in the game reserves and enhance our connections with communities.

Harriet Branson, Technical Specialist GIS & Remote Sensing, Conservation Technology

Species factfile


Chimpanzees, classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, face a myriad of threats to their survival. Habitat loss and fragmentation, driven by human activities such as deforestation and land development, pose grave challenges to their existence. Additionally, they suffer from the impacts of hunting for bushmeat and the illegal pet trade, which has devastated their populations.

Despite these challenges, chimpanzees exhibit remarkable adaptability, occupying diverse habitats ranging from tropical rainforests to montane rainforests at altitudes of up to 3000 meters, as well as swamp forests and forest-savannah mosaics.

Their cognitive abilities are equally astounding; some individuals have even demonstrated proficiency in basic human sign language, showcasing their intelligence and capacity for learning.


The aardvark, a unique mammal native to Africa, is famed for its distinct appearance and nocturnal lifestyle. Found mainly in sub-Saharan Africa's savannas, grasslands and woodlands, it belongs to the Tubulidentata order, being the sole species in this group.

With their elongated snouts and sharp sense of smell, aardvarks specialise in hunting insects like ants and termites, relying on powerful claws to excavate intricate burrows where they rear their young. Despite their sturdy build, these creatures are adept diggers, navigating underground tunnels for food and shelter.

However, aardvarks confront significant threats to survival, including habitat loss from human activities such as agriculture and urbanisation, along with predation and poaching. Conservation efforts are vital to safeguard their future, necessitating collaboration among communities, conservation groups and governments to protect their habitats and ensure coexistence with humans.

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