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Case studies from the Sudan

Some aspects of local government and environmental management in the Sudan
Wildife conservation in the arid zone of the Sudan
Soil conservation and land reclamation in the Sudan
Effect of soil salinity on the productivity of arid lands, with special reference to the

Nomads and their sedentarization in the Sudan
Impact of improved rural water supplies on settlement distribution in western Sudan the case of east Kordofan and el-fasher districts
Water-health relationships in el-obeid: an example from an urban semi-arid area in
western Sudan

Socio-economic assessment of agricultural development projects in the Sudan


Some aspects of local government and environmental management in the Sudan

Salih A. el-Arifi
University of Khartoum

Traditional economic behaviour is very much influenced by the environment. In the absence of sophisticated technology, environmental control over livelihood patterns and means of production becomes almost absolute. Since choices are carefully defined, man strives to utilize and fulfil such choices to the best of his knowledge and needs. Concepts such as rational resource-use and protection become essential in achieving an unchallenged existence and continuity of life. As such, it is rational to assume that traditional societies avoid man-made environmental catastrophes, since these will drastically affect their lives. Because of such fears, people regulate the use of available resources and become sensitive to environmental demands and changing conditions. For example, shifting cultivation and pastoral nomadic migration are forms of rational resource-use and exhibit an inherent human reaction and sensitivity to particular environments in the absence of scientific knowledge and advanced technology. Such behaviour or adjustments are intended to achieve subsistence and to strike a balance between environmental conditions and the present and future needs of society. To achieve this, the sense of the environment is embodied in local cultures, and in the process of evolution many institutions and simple organizations have emerged to regulate resource-use and to make it possible to meet the limited demands of traditional life systems.

In addition, man has learned to conserve resources, either through land-use systems or by inventing technology for resource conservation. For example, the triangular nomadic migrations of the Kababish are meant to avoid summer grazing areas, thus preserving water supply and pastures for another season of the year. Similarly, the Hamar of western Sudan have evolved a system of conservation of limited resources using traditional technology. Among the Hamar, hollowed trunks of tebeldi (Adansonia digitata) are used for storing water for the dry season. Furthermore, the traditional method of construction of wells in sandy areas of western Sudan, where underground water is available, becomes a dynamic factor controlling population distribution and land carrying capacities. The construction and maintenance of such wells are very specialized operations. Digging in unstable sandy layers, for example, must be accomplished by simultaneously digging and lining the interior of the well from the top downwards with the roots and branches of sidr trees (Zizyphus) or similar species.

Regulations and protection of land and related resources are observed by individuals according to their established rights and supervised by an arbitration system under traditional leadership. In sedentary communities there are three rights: the right to a plot of land for constructing a hut; the right to a piece of land for farming: and the right to cut wood, which may be extended to include gum arabic collection. These traditional rights are protected by relatively limited demands and by local leadership. In some cases rights and obligations become laws, and failure to observe them constitutes a punishable act. In this regard, Sultan Dali's laws and regulations were perhaps the best example of codes passed and enforced with the intention of protecting resource-use in Darfur in the seventeenth century [Sin, 1957). Such laws, or traditional land-use were meant to create an equilibrium between human demand and the capability of the environment.

None of the present traditional systems in the Sudan can be viewed as a closed system since they are constantly being subjected to urbanizing influences, which, quite apart from the drought (mahal), are bringing about new man-environment relationships. Although drought is an external factor, people have evolved systems of adaptation to accommodate its periodic occurrence. As a result, several options are open to present-day farmers: they may either revert to pastoral nomadism, grow quick-maturing crops, or migrate elsewhere. All these options are operating in western Sudan.

Urbanizing influences come from modernization programmes, which may or may not be well planned and co-ordinated, and from increasing urban demands for the natural resources and livestock products of the traditional sector. Poorly conceived modernization programmes and increasing demands for the products of the traditional sector of the economy have resulted in new relationships which adversely affect the ecological equilibrium. This is reflected in cultural and other activity patterns and in environmental conditions.

The People's Local Government Act was enacted in 1971 in an attempt to modernize traditional systems of government. The present paper aims at looking at this new local government organization in the Sudan, and its effect on manenvironment relationships. The new system of local government will be judged by its adaptability and effectiveness in observing and enforcing the values of traditional society as far as land-use and environmental protection are concerned. Only the impact on grazing and forestry in western Sudan will be considered. It is hoped that this short analysis will highlight the problems of urban dominance in planning for rural areas, and what is required of local administrative organizations from the viewpoint of environmental management.

Some Environmental Aspects of the Native Administration

Before the system of native administration was dissolved, it was responsible for maintaining order, organizing the use of resources, preventing crime, and collecting taxes. The system was based on heads of tribes and their subordinates, from the smallest unit of the village or nomadic camp upwards into various levels and areas of administration. During the colonial era, the British government endorsed the native hereditary system of government and passed several laws and regulations to organize and regularize the administrative and judiciary powers of native administrators. Key enactments include the Powers of the Nomadic Sheakhs Ordinance, 1922, the Powers of Sheikhs Ordinance, 1927; and the Native Court Ordinance, 1932 Through their wide representation and their qualities of leadership and power, they performed government duties at all local administrative levels.

Generally, native chiefs were influential and extremely dominant in local political and economic lives. Some, however, were accused of being exploitative and openly dishonest. Moreover, they supported powerful non-urban and non-leftist political parties, rousing sentiment against them and calls for the abolition of their positions. This became a reality when urban and leftist politics became dominant after 1969.

The powers of traditional leadership were intended to regulate the use of the environment and to prevent its destruction. This authority was either embodied in various government natural resources ordinances or acquired by tradition. For example, the former 1932 Forest Ordinance gave the nazir, the omda, and the sheiks* the right to arrest any person reasonably suspected of having been concerned in a forest offence (Sudan, forest Ordinance, 1932). Furthermore, such offences could be tried under native courts, again headed by local leadership such as the chief (nazir, mek, or sultan) or his deputies. In addition to this and other government laws and ordinances, the native administration performed other hereditary functions related to the use of the environment. For example, in annual tribal conferences many problems related to tribal boundaries, nomadic migration routes, water supply and grazing appropriations were settled, in addition to trying theft and murder cases. Such annual meetings were attended by all the leaders concerned, and were successful in at least organizing the use of resources ahead of time and reviewing and settling existing problems. Low-level readerships existed to supervise and implement such tribal agreements and regulations. Problems such as fires were dealt with immediately and agreement on punishment or compensations was arrived at, either through the administrative leadership or the arbitrating elders (known as agaweid, ugada, or damalieg). The tribal organizations may have had different ranks of elders or wise men who dealt with problems according to the degree of seriousness.

In the process of organizing the use of resources, some hereditary rights of chiefs were thought to be exploitative. For example, in many places in western Sudan, the nomads were made to pay adalat el-Beir (a form of traditional tax) to local chiefs in return for using the local pastures and water supplies. Although this tax went to the chiefs, it was paid against an assurance of future water supplies. In essence, this tax was no different from water charges now paid to government for frequenting its watering points.

Other rights might include, for example, a royalty levied on the collection of gum arable from nomprivate plots. This royalty was decided on the basis of a percentage of the amounts collected by individuals, and was usually paid to the most senior native leader. Because of such private payments, leaders developed an interest in the hashab tree (Acacia senegal) and discouraged cutting or burning. Furthermore, fire breaks were cleared by the local people every year after the rainy season, according to the law and regulations, and this annual activity was carried out under the supervision of local leaders.

From this limited number of examples of the obligations of local leaders, it is evident that they were people of sufficient knowledge and skill and well-positioned to solve disputes and regulate the use of resources according to government laws or hereditary rights that were well-observed and appreciated by the community.

The 1971 People's Local Government Act

The People's Local Government Act of 1971 replaced the 1951 Local Government Ordinance and abolished the functions and duties of traditional native local government. The objectives of the Act are to create an advanced system of administration with political and economic functions and create better channels of decision-making from the village or nomadic camp upwards to the provincial level (Sudan, Ministry of Local Government..., 1971). In rural areas, village councils and nomadic camp councils are now grouped into rural councils and these in turn are grouped into area councils supervised by the People's Province Executive

Councils (PPEC) which run the provinces. Under the powers provided by the Act, Sections 5 and 6 explain the duties and obligations of each PPEC in relation to agricultural activities and animal wealth respectively. Section 5, Article 9, gives the PPEC the rights to administer and develop forestry; similarly, Section 6, Articles 1 - 10, explain PPEC activities for the promotion and development of animal wealth. It is clear that such activities are mostly developmental and clearly fail to discuss or stress protection and conservation. In addition, each local council has permanent committees, including committees for land-use and for animal wealth, established to exercise the powers and duties of the council provided by the Act. Village and nomadic camp councils can have up to 18 permanent committees to look after and promote local activities. Since such committees do not have clear administrative authority and since arbitration is not part of their functions, their role in supervising the present use of resources will be greatly handicapped. Furthermore, the Act discouraged the participation by the traditional leadership (mostly leaders of the displaced native administration) in new government organizations, at least until very recently. The ousting antagonized these powerful and very influential leaders, eventually turning them against the functioning of the new system of government (el-Arifi, 1978).

New Environmental Relationships and the 1971 Act

The mission that prepared the Sudan's Desert Encroachment Control and Rehabilitation Programme reported that "desert encroachment in the Sudan is a man-made phenomenon caused by such land-misuse pressures as overgrazing, irrational cultivation, wood cutting and deforestation, uprooting shrubs for fuel, lowering of water-tables due to increased water use, and burning of grasslands, forests, and shrubs"(Sudan, Ministry of Agriculture ...,1976)

There is no doubt that such malpractices are not new to the Sudan, but were formerly dealt with and managed at local levels. Some of these malpractices have become acute in recent times under increased land-use pressure in precarious semi-arid environments with unpredictable and highly variable rainfall. Pressures on resources are either local or external. Internal pressures due to increases in human and animal populations increase demands on unimproved environments, which in turn lead to competition for natural resources. The effects of competition to fulfil needs become cumulative and lead to intensification of misuse of the land. For example, pastoral nomads extend and alter their migration routes, which bring them into conflict with others, and consciously overstock to guard against uniforme seen consequences. In recent times many desert nomads have been pushing southwards into more humid areas. For example, the Zagawa, Kawahla, and Kababish have extended their southern movements into the region of the Baggara (cattle) nomads.

Internal pressures have also been created by uncoordinated, poorly conceived, or badly implemented projects. Such projects produce new carrying capacities and, in the absence of livestock off-take marketing mechanisms, fail to accommodate overstocking and therefore set the stage for new misuse relationships.

For example, the provision of water supplies to rural areas is generally effected in isolation from other economy improvement programmes. The lack of co-ordination between water supply and pasture management and improvement will eventually reduce the utility of watering points. Other poorly conceived programmes include primary education programmes which are very urban in their orientation and outlook for nomadic areas. The best example of such a poorly implemented programme is to be found at Gerih el-Sarha in northwestern North Kordofan Province. The conceptual framework of settling nomads using their available resources without switching them to farming is in itself acceptable, but because of uncoordinated planning and problems in implementation, the Gerih el-Sarha Settlement Scheme failed to achieve its objectives.

External or non-rural demands can also create serious pressures, particularly for wood fuel and livestock products. The annual per capita consumption of wood fuel has increased from 1.62 m to 2.00 m between 1962 and 1976/77 (Mukhtar, 1978). This per capita consumption varies among different regions of the Sudan. It is highest, reaching 2.80 m, in the arid and semi-arid areas where most of the urban population of the Sudan resides (elBushra, 1972). With the existing high urban population growth rates and the persistent use of wood as a source of energy and heating, it is evident that wood-cutting must increase proportionally to meet the rising urban demands. For example, in Khartoum, Nile, Northern, Kassala, and Red Sea Provinces, the estimated total wood consumption for 1976-77 was 11.03 million m while the estimated annual allowable quantity was 2.70 million m. it is estimated that these provinces receive about 4 million m from other source areas, and the fuel deficit of at least 5 million m is made up from meagre local sources (Mukhtar, 1978).

Again, urban demands for beef and mutton are higher than in rural areas. The annual per capita consumption of mutton is estimated at 13.5 kg, four times that of rural areas, and that of beef is estimated at 26.5 kg in urban areas and 10.5 kg in rural areas. Since almost all the urban demand is supplied by producers from the traditional sector, namely pastoral nomads, the function and the size of the herds are expected to change. This, in addition to other government services, has caused animal numbers to expand and multiply several times over. It is estimated that animal numbers increased four times between 1956 and 1966. By 1974 the Sudan had approximately 40.1 million head of livestock, mostly in western Sudan. Obviously, such increases must have their environmental impact.

The above-mentioned factors, in addition to the lack of knowledge of the consequences of environmental misuse, the indifferent attitudes of urban people, the lack of law and a competent agency to enforce it, and the failure of local government units created by the 19,71 Act to fill the vacuum produced by the liquidation of native administration, have all led to a misuse of resources leading to depletion of forests and pastures and soil exhaustion. In fact, on account of the shortcomings of the 1932 Forests Law, the Department of Forests has recommended a new law which will soon be promulgated. But the department is short of personnel and funds to carry out any effective afforestation programmes or protection measures (el-Rasheed, 1975).

From the previous discussion, it is clear that the 1971 People's Local Government Act has weakened authority at lower levels, creating a vacuum for the supervision of resource-use according to laws or traditional custom. The power to protect and guide annual use, punish, or arbitrate vanished. The end-result is that people use resources in a manner that fits their immediate needs as influenced by the internal or external forces mentioned above.

Judging from the various government reports on the problems that face effective administration and the use of resources in rural areas, it is evident that the Act is an urban innovation alien to the general framework of rural society, culture, traditions, and institutions. It may be quite adequate for the needs of the urban areas, and may fit the ideology of the urban-based Sudan Socialist Union. However it is not adequate nor responsive to local needs for maintaining an equilibrium between a precarious environment and a traditional society formerly protected by the presence of local authority under native administration. In the absence of this authority and under the diffused power structure of the Act, the use of the environment has become unpredictable and highly uncontrolled.

Conclusions and Suggestions for Future Research

(1) Innovations in developing traditional societies should be viewed within their socio-cultural economic needs and adapt to prevailing man-environment relationships.
(2) Similarly, the traditional points of view should be incorporated into any innovation, whether it be an eco nomic stimulus or a law.
(3) From the above brief survey, it is evident that the 1971 people's Local Government Act has many environmental failings. Above all, it is unable to perform the regulatory and protective functions of the abolished traditional native system of administration.
(4) Because of this failure, environmental problems resulting from misuse of the land are beyond the abilities of institutions. There is no doubt that the existing system of local government will require reforms until more capable organizations emerge. Other programmes of improvement, implemented in isolation from the required reforms in the system of local government, are also doomed to fail.
(5) Resource management and use are bound by cultural institutions, whether local or imposed from outside. The People's Local Government Act is an external factor which has had many consequences for the management, use, and utilization of natural resources in the Sudan. Future research should focus on the new relationships produced by the Act and test the performance of the administrative organs and institutions created for the protection, conservation, and proper use of resources in rural Sudan.


Arifi, S.A. el-, 1978. "Local Government and Local Participation in Development in the Sudan," Proc. Conf. on Rural Participalion, March 1978. Inst. Devt. Studies, University of Nairobi.

Bushra, el-Saved el-, 1972. "Urbanisation in the Sudan," In el-Bushra, ed., Urbanisation in the Sudan; Proc. 1 7th Ann. Conf. Phil. Soc. Sudan, Khartoum.

Mukhtar, M. A. 1975. "Production and Use of Wood Fuel in the Sudan." Proc. 1st Agric. Conf., April 1975. Khartoum (in Arabic).

---.1978. "Wood Fuel as a Source of Energy in the Sudan." Proc, 1st Energy Conf., April 1978. Khartoum, Ministry of Energy and Mining.

Rasheed, M.A. el-, 1975. "Present and Future Man-Power and Labour Force in Forestry Department." 1st Agric. Conf., April 1975. Khartoum (in Arabic).

Sin, A.A. 1957. Darfur Province. (Mimeographed in Arabic.)

Sudan, Government of the. 1932. Forest Ordinance, 1932.

Sudan, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and Agricultural Research Council, 1976. Sudan's Desert Encroachment Control and Rehabilitation Programme, Khartoum.

Sudan, Ministry of Local Government, Housing and Community Development. 1971. People's Local Government Act, 1977.

Wildlife conservation in the arid zone of the Sudan

Mutasim Bashir Nimir Wildlife Research Division, Khartoum

Salah Abdel Rahman Hakim Agricultural Research Corporation

In the desert and semi-desert regions of northern Sudan, deterioration of the vegetative rover as well as the disappearance of wildlife are recognized as the main features of desert encroachment. The Sudan's Desert Encroachment Control and Rehabilitation Programme (Sudan, Ministry of Agriculture..., 1976) described the problem es a man-made phenomenon caused by such pressures of misuse as overgrazing, irrational cultivation, wood cutting and deforestation, uprooting shrubs for fuel, lowering of watertables due to increased water use, and burning of grasslands, forests, and shrublands.

It is generally accepted that the right approach to fight desert encroachment is through planned land-use. One goal which the right management of the land should fulfil is the protection of wildlife in areas threatened with desert encroachment. This cannot be achieved without developing a national land-use policy for the whole region based on reclamation and conservation of the available resources.

The savanna region of the Sudan is also subjected to overuse induced by the loss of marginal lands to the desert and the movement of the nomads to the south in search of new pastures. Introduction of mechanized agriculture is also adding to the problem in many areas, as it reduces the available natural ranges and affects livestock and wildlife. Wildlife in the savanna region is deteriorating, and it is evident that serious efforts are needed to protect it.

The status of wildlife conservation in northern Sudan is unsatisfactory. Deterioration of wildlife habitats is occurring at an alarming rate. Competition with other land-uses is affecting many of the wildlife habitats. Several species such as oryx (Oryx algazel), addax (Addax nasomacalatus), addra gazelle (Dame dame), Sommering gazelle (Gazella someringi), and leopard (Panthera pardus) are threatened with extinction.

Existing legislation on wildlife and national parks in the Sudan is inadequate to help conserve what is left. The Wild Animals Ordinance of 1935, as amended in 1971, is the basic legislation under which the wildlife administration operates. Under this ordinance, national parks, game sanctuaries, and game reserves were declared. Hunting
is prohibited in national parks and game sanctuaries; it is permitted in game reserves only if a special permit issued by the Director of the Wildlife Administration has been obtained.

According to the 1935 ordinance, only one national park exists in northern Sudan, namely the Dinder National Park. Three game reserves exist: Tokar, Rahad, and Sabloka. Three game sanctuaries exist in the area between Omdurman Bridge and Gordon's Tree, the district situated 6 km on either side of the road leading from Sinkat to Erkowit and the district lying within 16 km radius of Erkowit.

Conservation in these "protected areas" is unsatisfactory. It should be pointed out that no major changes have been introduced in the 1935 Ordinance concerning national parks, game reserves, and sanctuaries. Some of the game reserves and sanctuaries are no longer worthy of their name, because all game animals have disappeared from them and their natural habitat has been destroyed. On the other hand, no attempts have been made to include other areas which contain game animals as game reserves and sanctuaries.

A new wildlife and national parks legislation was drafted in 1974 but has not Yet passed as law. The proposed ordinance will present better conservation measures for national parks and other protected areas. Although the proposed ordinance suggests a new national park in the Radom area of Southern Darfur, no attempts are made to improve the situation of game reserves and sanctuaries.

The Wildlife Administration is the government agency entrusted with the management of wildlife and national parks and enforcement and implementation of the Wild Animals Ordinance. Fraser Darling (1961) pointed out that the Wildlife Administration was originally conceived as a licensing and policing body and had been manned as such. He advised the government to adopt the newer concept of a wildlife department as a technical, natural resource conserving body, intimately concerned with the management of habitats and animal populations. Very minor progress has been achieved towards that goal.

The Wildlife Administration is manned by 80 game officers and inspectors, of whom only two have post-graduate training, seven are university graduates-biologists with no wildlife training-six have been recruited during the last two years in junior posts, and the remainder are graduates of secondary or intermediate schools with no scientific training, with the exception of two who are holders of diplomas in wildlife from the Mweka College in Tanzania. There are 214 game scouts working for the Wildlife Administration, all of whom have had military training and some instruction about the Wild Animal Ordinance, no scientific training.

The Wildlife Administration does not have adequate means of transportation and lacks the necessary equipment to perform its duties.

The Wildlife Research Division was initiated within the Wildlife Administration in 1968 and was attached to the Agricultural Research Corporation in 1975. The division has a research staff of nine research scientists, four of whom are holders of masters' degrees in range and wildlife management, but it lacks transport vehicles, laboratories and equipment. Although there is some co-ordination between the Wildlife Research Division and Wildlife Administration, their relationship needs to be officially defined.

Conservation in Game Reserves, Sanctuaries, and Other Game Areas

The conservation status of the three game reserves of northern Sudan can be rated as uncertain. The Rahad Game Reserve has been subjected to human settlement in many parts. Cultivation, over-grazing, and felling of trees have resulted in the disappearance of wild animals from most parts of this reserve.

The Sabloka Game Reserve, specially established for the protection of the wild sheep (Ammotragus lervia), is no longer believed to hold any of them. Similarly the situation in Tokar Game Reserve has been deteriorating, but no recent data are available.

The Wildlife Administration has not arranged any patrolling system to guard the game reserves. Wildlife Administration posts are located far from the game reserves, and lack of transport and personnel makes any attempts at protection or surveying impossible. Some of these game reserves have not been visited by any representative of the Wildlife Administration during the last five years.

Conservation status in the three game sanctuaries is not much better than in the game reserves. Protective measures for wildlife and their habitats are lacking. There are many signs of deterioration. Immediate action might stop over-grazing and uprooting of shrubs in the Erkowit Sanctuary and help in conserving the habitat of the Nubian ibex (Capra nubiana). The situations in Sinkat-Erkowit Road Sanctuary and Omdurman Gordon's Tree Sanctuary should be reevaluated before deciding what are the chances of improving their conservation status.

Whilst the conservation situation inside the "protected areas" of the arid zone cannot be considered a happy one, there are other areas outside still containing wildlife, but these also need immediate conservation efforts.

In the desert region of Northern Kordofan and Northern Darfur some wildlife still remains. The dorcas gazelle (Gazelle dorcas) and ostrich (Struthio camelus) occur in small numbers throughout the area, and the red-fronted dame gazelle (Gaze/la rufifrons) is present in many localities. The Barbary sheep is found in some of the rocky hills in the region. Other associated species are also present throughout the region (Sudan, Ministry of Agriculture.... 1976). An aerial survey by Lamprey (1975) did not report the presence of the addax, the oryx, or the addra gazelle, but their re-introduction in the region is feasible.

In the Red Sea Hills the Nubian ibex is found in many localities. The dorcas gazelle and ostrich are scattered along the Red Sea coastal plains together with other associated species.

In the Baga area west of el-Dueim and in the extensive desert reaches west of Omdurman to the eastern boundaries of Northern Kordofan and north of Omdurman to the southern boundaries of the Nile Province, large numbers of dorcas gazelles are present. These two areas are subject to overgrazing, uprooting of shrubs for fuel and poaching.

Jebel el-Dair, south of el-Rahad in Northern Kordefan, has a good population of the greater kudu (Strepsiceros strepsiceros). The kudu population of Jebel el-Dair is subject to poaching, and the habitat is deteriorating because of intensive felling of trees and burning of grass and trees.

In Khor el-Pasai and other localities in Kassala Province a good population of Sommering gazelles is found, with other associated species.

Conservation Status in the Dinder National Park, Radom and Abyei Areas

Desert encroachment in the north has induced increased pressure of land-use in the savanna region. It is important to study the impact of this increasing pressure on Southern Kordofan, Southern Darfur, and the Dinder region, and there is an immediate need for integrated land-use polices for these three regions.

The Dinder National Park is the only national park in the northern regions of the Sudan, and it contains great potential in terms of its economic, aesthetic, and scientific values. The proximity of the park to Europe adds to its tourist potential.

The park is not a complete ecological unit for many species of animals, as large groups of animals migrate to wet-season ranges outside the boundaries of the park.

During the last ten years unlicensed mechanized farmshave spread into the wet-season ranges, which are used by the migratory animals of the park. Efforts to stop unlicensed agriculture have failed and the area cultivated is increasing every year.

Licences are issued to establish farms around the park without any co-ordination with the Wildlife Administration. Work has already started on a 400,000-ha farm north of Jebel el-Gerri which is expected to have a serious impact on the animals as it is diminishing the area of the wet-season habitat. Other 400,000 ha farms are planned for the near future.

Expansion of agriculture has diminished the area of natural pastures available for domestic livestock in the Dinder region. During the months from January to June there is considerable trespassing by livestock within the park. A 1977 report by the Wildlife Research Division stated that livestock trespassing within the park had increased by 400 per cent during the last three years.

Hashim and Nimir (1977) maintained that during the last six years there has been a significant decrease in the populations of tiang (Damaliscus korrigum) and waterbuck (Kobus defassa), amounting to 60 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. They explained the decrease as a direct result of the expansion of mechanized agriculture on wet-season ranges and livestock trespassing in the park during the dry season. In addition to competition for food between livestock and wildlife, trespassing in the park has caused outbreaks of rinderpest (1972) and anthrax (1974) among the wild animals.

Stage two of the Rahad Scheme will involve the construction of a canal to transport water from Roseires Dam to the Rahad River. The Rahad Canal is expected to block the migration route of the park animals. Two FAO experts, Holsworth (1968) and Dasmann (1972), studied the problem and advised the Sudan government to modify the suggested canal. They predicted that the canal would cause a serious reduction in the animal population in the park. No official response has been made to the suggestions offered by the two experts.

During the last four years the Forestry Administration has issued licences to charcoal producers to work in areas surrounding the park. This practice is also threatening the wet-season habitat of the animals.

Immigrants arriving in the Dinder Region from western Sudan and neighbouring West African countries are increasing in number at a high rate. They have established several villages in areas adjacent to the park, where they have started cultivation, felling trees, and poaching. The local government is not controlling the spread of this settlement.

The above-mentioned factors point to the urgent need for a land-use policy in the Dinder region. To reach better coordination, government ministries and administrations concerned with agriculture, irrigation, hydro-electric power, water development, wildlife, forestry, pastures, tourism, local government, and other relevant agencies should agree on a land-use policy to control the over-all development of the Dinder region.

The Radom area (southwestern Southern Darfur Province) has a rich and diverse flora and fauna. It is proposed to declare it a national park. Because of the presence of the tsetse fly, there is no livestock in the area. The area is sparsely populated and only primitive cultivation is practiced. Every summer, nomads from Northern Darfur invade the Radom area in large groups armed with modern weapons, and practice poaching. They kill hundreds of animals and have an active business in dried game meat and skins. The Wildlife Administration in the province needs immediate reinforcement to enable it to stop such activities and protect the animals.

The Abyei area (southwestern Southern Kordofan Province) has a rich fauna and flora. Immediate plans are needed to establish a game reserve or national park in the area. Meanwhile, measures to controlover-grazingare needed, as nomads from Northern Kordofan and neighbouring West African countries invade the area every summer with their Iivestock.

Land-Use Practices in the Absence of a Land-Use Plan

Shortage of food coupled with a rise in population in the Third World in general has forced these nations to dedicate more land of agriculture to produce more food. The Sudan is no exception. This attitude, in the absence of a scientific landuse policy, has resulted in several problems. Cultivation of marginal lands returned a crop for a couple of years before production dropped drastically and cultivation became uneconomic. Then the abandoned farms with their vegetative cover removed were open to erosion. The loose soil was blown away in the wind, the topsoil and its nutrients were removed by runoff, with rain splash in the rainy season aiding the process. The eco-systems were generally impoverished, and the land became unsuitable for any kind of utilization.

The drive to put more land into agriculture swallowed up vast areas of already-exhausted natural livestock ranges, leading to a similar result. According to the Sudanese Environmental Conservation Society (1978), only 10 million ha are left as natural ranges in the three provinces of Gezira, Blue Nile, and White Nile. With a carrying capacity of 12 ha/unit/annum, this area can support 800,000 animal units. If it is assumed that the crop residue in the area will support 1 million animal units,then the whole area can support a total of 1.8 million animal units. When this figure is compared with the actual number of 5 million animal units (Watson, 1975) we are left with 3.2 million animal units above the carrying capacity. However, the situation is a good deal worse, since 1.6 million ha of unlicensed cultivation and 2 million ha of proposed agricultural schemes have not been accounted for in the above figures. This shrinkage in natural ranges has accelerated even further the process of over-grazing and range deterioration. Carrying capacity will be steadily lowered in the arid land belt across the whole country. This belt has a long history of over-grazing.

To the nomads of northern and central Sudan the number of animals one owns is a measure of one's social prestige. This, together with the low needs of a nomadic family for cash, has discouraged the nomad from selling his animals. The rate of removal from the herds fell far below their rate of growth, and as the growing number of animals exceeded the carrying capacity of the range the process of over-grazing began. The perennial grasses were gradually replaced by annuals. The palatable nutritious perennials fixed the soil, protected the topsoil from erosion, reduced its loss of moisture, and kept nutrients in the system. The less nutritious annuals were less efficient in all these aspects. They hastily completed their life cycle and dried up in the sun of the early dry season and thus facilitated the fires that consume 15 per cent of the natural fodder in the savanna belt (Range Department estimate).

This multiplied pressure on livestock ranges had its direct effect on wildlife. As the livestock ranges were taken over for cultivation or became fully deteriorated, livestock was taken to the more remote, relatively rich wildlife ranges. Human activity reached these new areas and wildlife was driven out. Under the pressure of competition with livestock and habitat deterioration, the numbers of big game animals continued to drop. In the absence of a scientific land-use policy, destruction of wildlife habitats continued. Trees were cut down in the arid zone to prepare for cultivation and to meet the ever-increasing demand for firewood.

Recently vast areas of wildlife habitat have given way to cultivation in the Blue Nile and Kassala Provinces. In the process of the expansion of agriculture, the needs of the wildlife, livestock range, and forestry were not taken into account.

Government agencies involved in land utilization operated independently. In the west, water wells were drilled without the advice of the Range Department and the wells were distributed with no consideration to the range condition. The result was that some areas near water were effectively over-grazed while vast areas with no wells were left untouched.

The absence of a land-use policy and the lack of coordination were most evidently encountered in the Dinder area, as discussed earlier. The situation forced the Wildlife Research Unit in 1976 to propose the formation of a Landuse Board for the Blue Nile Province. All the government agencies involved in land-use were to be represented on this board. The decision to allot land for any kind of utilization was to be taken solely by the board. The idea was that similar boards would be formed in all other provinces in due course.

Finally this would lead to the formation of a national board for land-use planning. To enable such a board to plan for landuse on a national scale, an evaluation of the natural resources of the country is essential. A land inventory that covers soil, topography, climate, vegetation, animal wealth, and relevant socio-economic factors must be carried out. The modern technique of remote sensing based on satellite imagery will render this task much easier and less expensive than before. Then the board will be in a position to allot land for proper utilization consistent with the maximum sustained yield. Wherever possible the concept of multiple use should be considered. This method of utilization was proposed by Dasmann (1972) for the wetseason habitat of big game adjacent to Dinder National Park. This arrangement will certainly need the highest standard of co-operation between the agencies involved.

The Role of Wildlife Research

With no or little data on wildlife available, the main objective of research will be to collect base-line data. First of all, we need to know what animal species are present and the size of the populations. The type of habitat these populations use and its status are also essential data. Detailed study of these populations and their habitats must certainly follow. There is a need to study the rate of growth of these populations and their feeding habits and behaviour. It is equally important to study the components of the habitat, its level of use and ecological trend. With the general deterioration of habitats in the arid zone the latter two points are of special significance.

Research is then expected to proceed to draw sound management plans detailing how best to conserve these populations. With wildlife as an integral part of the eco-system and playing an important role in its stability, wildlife research is only part of the overall effort to restore and maintain ecological balance in the arid zone.

The need to draw management plans for specific animal species is now evident. This is certainly the case with the acutely endangered oryx and addax in Northern Darfur Province, a role now far beyond the facilities of the Research Unit. We need to study their food habits and behaviour, to explore their habitats intensively, to trace the origin of their problems, and to engineer management plans to conserve these valuable animals.

In this country where little importance is attached to wildlife, a research effort to expose and preach the economic value of wildlife in the fields of tourism and animal protein production is needed, because at present and for some time to come senior officials will always allot funds to different agencies with their eyes on returns.

Present Status of Wildlife Research

The Wildlife Research Unit was first established in 1968, but it only became effective in the mid-seventies. It has since been kept busy carrying out general surveys in wildlife areas and collecting base-line data. This kind of work has made good progress in Dinder National Park and in the Radom area in southwestern Southern Darfur.

Acute shortage of funds left the unit with no effective transportation, a necessity for work in remote areas. The unit is still too low in personnel to meet the volume of work at hand. Being handicapped both in facilities and personnel, it is far from effectively carrying out its responsibilities or satisfying its own ambitions. Yet with whatever is available reasonable progress is being made. Working with an equally handicapped Wildlife Administration to change some erroneous, old, and traditional management practices has taken a lot of patience and diplomacy.


The absence of well-defined guidelines for land-use in this country has created various complex problems. Overstocking in the arid zone leads to over-grazing and destruction of the ravaged range-lands. Cultivation of lands with fragile ecological equilibrium has impoverished the land. Felling of trees and bushes, together with wild fires, had led to the same results. All these malpractices opened the door for desert encroachment. Lack of co-ordination between the government agencies involved in land-use controls has multiplied the problem even further. Our lands are impoverished, agricultural production has fallen, our livestock ranges have deteriorated, and wildlife is endangered. We are a poor country, yet we have to address ourselves to these problems that are far beyond our own capabilities. With some foreign help progress can be made.

With the situation as it is, the need for a national land-use planning body cannot be over-emphasized. Co-ordination between government agencies in this field is vital and should be legislated for.

Promotion of research in the area of natural resources in general is now essential. The design of integrated research programmes in the areas of forestry, range, and wildlife is most advisable. Wildlife research as an integral part of natural resources research should be boosted and the Wildlife Research Unit should be strengthened to enable it to address itself to the great task of conserving our wildlife wealth.

Let us first work hard to stop deterioration in the arid zone. We can then proceed to restore and maintain the ecological balance in the area.


Darling, F.F. 1961. "Towards a Game Policy for the Republic of Sudan." Unpubl. report submitted to the Sudan Govt.

Dasmann, W.P. 1972. Development and Management of the Dinder National Park and Its Wildlife. UN/FAD Report No. TA 3113.

Hashim, I.M., and M.B. Nimir, 1977. "Population Trend Counts of Tiang, Waterbuck and Roan Antelope in Dinder National Park." Submitted for publication.

Holsworth, W.H. 1968. Report to the Government of the Sudan on Dinder National Park. UN/FAO Report No. TA 2457.

Lamprey, H. F. 1975. Report on the Desert Encroachment Reconnaissance, Northern Sudan. National Council for Research, Sudan.

Moore, G. 1974. Wildlife and National Parks Legislation. UN/FAD Report No. TA 330.

Sudan, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and Agricultural Research Council. 1976. Sudan's Desert Encroachment Control and Rehabilitation Programme. Khartoum.

Sudan, Wildlife Administration. 1935. Wild Animals Ordinance 1935. Khartoum.

Sudanese Environmental Conservation Society. 1978. "Seminar on the Problems of the Dinder National Park." Unpubl. report. Khartoum.

Watson. 1975. "Livestock Census in Northern Sudan." Unpubl. report submitted to the Govt. of Sudan.


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