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New Doubts About Whether Elephants Can Survive South Sudan’s Civil War

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...

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.

Read the whole story on National Geographic News.

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Meet the Author

Christina Russo
Christina Russo is a freelance journalist. For nearly 15 years, she has worked as a producer for a number of public radio programs, including NPR/WBUR’s "On Point" with Tom Ashbrook. Christina also freelances for Yale Environment 360, where her written work focuses mainly on wildlife conservation issues. She is the co-producer, with WBUR, of the nationally syndicated documentary on American zoos, From Cages to Conservation. She has written numerous articles about animals, including a story about caring for donkeys in Ethiopia; a veterinarian saving horses in Sonoma County, CA; an elephant sanctuary in northern Thailand; and the work of pre-eminent whale biologist Roger Payne for her hometown newspaper, The Gloucester Daily Times.