Boma-Badingilo Migratory Landscape (Contiguous site)

South Sudan
Date of Submission: 04/10/2017
Criteria: (vii)(ix)(x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports
State, Province or Region:
Jonglei (Boma, Jonglei), Central Equatoria (Terekeka, Jubek, Imatong)
Coordinates: N6.51378 E32.9586
Ref.: 6277


The Boma-Badingilo Migratory Landscape (‘the landscape’) covers an estimated area of 37,500 km2. The landscape consists of Boma and Badingilo National Parks on either sides of a large expanse of savannah habitats. To the west lies Badingilo (8,935km2) and to the east is Boma (19,747km2). These are connected by an unprotected corridor that allows the wildlife to range between the two protected areas. Various White Nile tributaries drain northwards through the landscape, including the Kinyeti, Lotilla and Kengen, all of which flow into the Pibor River that drains into the Sobat River. The north of Boma National Park contains the Juom swamps that has various permanent pools and forms an extensive flooded grassland during the wet season.

The landscape encompasses various grassland and woodland savannahs along a belt of natural wilderness between the White Nile (or ‘Bahr el Jebel’) and the Ethiopian border. The grasslands and plains are dominated by Hyparrhenia, Sporobolus, Pennisetum and Echinochloa grass species. Various woodlands consist of Combretum, Balanites and Acacia species. The soils are mostly black-cotton, which are rich in nutrients and have a high clay content. During the wet season, seasonal flooding of these grasslands creates vast flooded areas. The entire landscape is exposed to extensive burning during the dry season, these fire dynamics perform an essential role in maintaining the area’s grassland habitats.

The landscape falls across the “Sudd-Sahelian Flooded Grasslands and Savannahs” and “East Sudanian Savannahs” WWF Global 200 eco-regions. Its defining characteristic is the annual white-eared kob migration, a natural spectacle of approximately 1 million animals moving in mega-herds, consisting of thousands of individuals, between Boma and Badingilo National Parks. This is the second largest animal migration in the world. There are also a number of other important savannah species found within the landscape, including Rothschilds giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) (Endangered), African elephant (Loxodonta africana) (Vulnerable), white-eared kob (Kobus kob thomasi)(Least Concern), Mongalla gazelle (Eudorcas albonotata)(Least Concern, Endemic), bohor reedbuck (Redunca redunca)(Least Concern), tiang (Damaliscus lunatus tiang)(Vulnerable), Beisa oryx (Oryx b. beisa) (Near Threatened), and wild dog (Lycaon pictus) (Endangered). Importantly, the landscape includes the southern part the tiang’s migratory range, which is visited during the wet season and is a key breeding habitat for the species.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Boma-Badingilo Migratory Landscape contains some of East Africa’s most extensive savannah habitats. The IUCN world heritage site gap assessment identified the Sudd-Sahelian Flooded Grasslands and Savannahs eco-region, of which the northeastern portion of the landscape is a part, as a key unrepresented ecological system globally. The landscape’s grassland ecosystems exhibit strong environmental gradients with pronounced short and long term variations in biomass production and distribution, related to seasonal flood dynamics. This characteristic drives movements of antelope and other species between areas of varying ecological resource availability on a seasonal basis. These seasonal wildlife movements, mostly of white-eared kob but also of sympatric Mongalla gazelle, constitute one of the world’s few large-scale migrations of terrestrial mammals of outstanding universal value. This is a unique phenomenon that consists of a species assemblage that is completely distinct from antelope migrations elsewhere. The flora and fauna in this region forms a unique ecosystem of its own kind, and of great important for conservation. 

Criterion (vii): The white-eared kob migration across Boma and Badingilo savannah ecosystems is a wildlife spectacle and superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance, in which hundreds of thousands of animals migrate in mega-herds across a wide expanse of intact grassland savannah ecosystem. This antelope migration represents one the world’s few long distances and wide rang seasonal movements of terrestrial mammal species on earth similar to that of Serengeti ecosystem. 

Criterion (ix): The seasonal movements of white eared kobs and other large ungulates species such as mongalla gazelles is an outstanding example of significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial mammals, only occurring in sub-Saharan Africa, these animals have a specific behavioural adaptation that allows them to respond to environmental constraints imposed by changes in forage and water availability.

Criterion (x): The vast woodland savannah and grassland ecosystems of Boma-Badingilo Migration Landscape serve as key habitats for a variety of communities of plants and animal species. Such high species abundance and diversity is of global conservation significance and of major importance for the long-term survival of savannah species assemblages. The landscape supports an abundance of wildlife species of global conservation importance, such as endangered elephants, giraffe, elands, oryx, lions, wild dog, buffalo and the antelope species, the Nile Lechwe endemic to South Sudan, all of which represents outstanding universal values of global conservation importance.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Systematic aerial surveys and reconnaissance of the Boma-Badingilo Migratory Landscape conducted between 2007 and 2015 have demonstrated that it contains large tracts of undisturbed and intact habitats. These habitats support significant viable wildlife populations, including white-eared kob (1 million), tiang (180,000), Mongalla gazelle (300,000), bohor reedbuck (20,000), Beisa oryx, ostrich (3,500), elephant (~300) and Rothchild’s giraffe (~300). There is no industrial infrastructure, such as oil wells or pipelines, water abstraction points, dams, roads or bridges, within the migratory landscape. The landscape supports mostly pastoralist livelihoods, with concentrations of cattle in northern and southern areas. Agriculture/cultivation is almost entirely absent, and other community-based natural resource use activities within its extent are mostly subsistence and small-scale and present limited threat to its ecological integrity.

There are two main government departments with jurisdiction relevant to the management of the landscape, these include the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism. There is also a growing mandate for environmental and wildlife protection in South Sudan, through the development of new environmental laws and management plans. However, a lack of an integrated conservation and development approach is a major barrier to wildlife conservation across the landscape. A key constraint of Boma and Badingilo National Parks is that they have never had their boundaries accurately surveyed and demarcated. A new draft management plan for Badingilo National Park details a ten-year programme of work to overcome these challenges and establish the park as an effective management unit.

Across the landscape, overexploitation of wildlife and habitat fragmentation are notable existing and potential threats, including commercial poaching linked to small-arms availability, artisanal gold mining, competition for scarce natural resources (e.g. pasture and water), road building without sufficient environmental planning, and the expansion of the extractives industry (including oil and mining) into ecologically sensitive areas, which result in habitat degradation from infrastructure and pollution, as well as increased hunting and trafficking activity.

Comparison with other similar properties

There is only one other terrestrial migratory phenomenon of similar global significance, this is the migration of 1.5 million white-bearded wildebeest between Serengeti National Park (14,750km2) in Tanzania and the Maasai Mara National Reserve (1,510km2) in Kenya. Serengeti National Park is a property on the World Heritage List and is characterised by a similar wildlife assemblage and habitat to the Boma-Badingilo Migratory Landscape. This includes extensive grassland plains and an abundance of African mega-fauna including elephants, antelopes and carnivores. The white eared kob migration in Boma-Badingilo Migratory Landscape rivals the saiga antelope in Kazakhstan, the Tibetan gazelle in China and kiang Wild Ass in central Asia. These terrestials mammals species experience long-distance seasonal movement across various habitat types such as the grassland, deserts and xeric shrublands, temperate grasslands and shrublands, montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate coniferous forests, all of which are globally threatened or endangered species listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The vast habitat types of the Central Asian region, support one of the world’s large mammals’ migrations, which shares some similar features with Boma-Badingilo Migration Lanscape. Several of these ecoregions are important Global 200 sites whose biodiversity features are distinct and consider the best example of a biome within a realm of which Boma- Landscape is part.