Southern Sudan knows violence. After being wracked by modern Africa’s longest civil war, from 1983 to 2005, in which millions of people were displaced or died, South Sudan gained independence in 2011.
The region’s elephants, originally estimated after the war to number about 5,000, suffered extreme losses too—but amazingly some survived. As migratory animals, they fled into hideouts deep in the bush, where they holed up out of the line of fire. (See “The Lost Herds of Southern Sudan,” National Geographic, November 2010.)
In December 2013, when South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, accused his former vice president, Riek Machar, of planning a coup, fighting erupted, and many lives were lost.