World’s Largest Land Mammal Migration in South Sudan Revealed

Amazingly, the first thorough aerial wildlife survey in South Sudan uncovered the migratory patterns of millions of antelope. The vast migration of these critters, which were thought extinct owing to decades of war, has not only been found, but is flourishing.

Conflict in the central African nation during the past few decades has rendered the area unsuitable for scientific study, and there is a dearth of information on the migration patterns of the local fauna. However, according to a recent analysis, the biggest known migration of land mammals on Earth is believed to be taking place in South Sudan.

Along with the Great Migration of wildebeests from Tanzania to Kenya, the largest animal migration in the world takes place in South Sudan. Between the months of January and June, a half-million antelopes from the floodplains of the Sudd and Bandingilo National Parks, Boma National Park, and Gambella National Park in Ethiopia converge on a large savannah to the east of the White Nile. After the immense herds of wildebeests in the Serengeti, this tiang and white-eared kob migration is the largest terrestrial wildlife migration in Africa.

South Sudan says its 6M antelope make up world’s largest land mammal migration

Largest Land Mammal Migration South Sudan

It is said that every year, a herd of antelopes—including five million white-eared kob, 300,000 tiang, 350,000 Mongalla gazelle, and 160,000 Bohor reedbuck—makes its way across the landscape, making its way from the southern savannas to the northern and eastern marshes.

These estimations are based on data collected from an aerial survey of the area known as “the Great Nile Migration Landscape” in the Jonglei region, which includes Boma and Badingilo national parks, in 2023. A plane maintained a constant altitude above the ground as it swooped over land transects, taking pictures every two seconds and recording what it saw. The area being sampled was about 122,000 square kilometers (47,000 square miles). During the 2000s and 1980s, when the region was largely calm between episodes of turmoil, researchers employed the method to evaluate the distribution of wild animals in broad open expanses.

While many parts of the world have seen a decline in wildlife owing to human expansion and climate change, the most recent findings have stunned biologists. This data demonstrates that the migratory has not only survived but grown during the years of war.

It appears that the population of these species has grown since 2007, if the statistics are to be believed. Wildlife expert and director of conservation efforts for African Parks in South Sudan, Mike Fay, claims that their numbers have been on the rise since the 1980s. Despite his warnings about the enormous margins of error, the total still outstrips the two million wildebeest that migrate over Tanzania’s Serengeti in what is widely recognized as the biggest land mammal migration, even at the lowest estimate of four million antelope.

Additionally, the distances crossed are comparable to the longest yearly land migration in the globe. Although tiang travel routes differ from species to species, the survey did find that some tiang travelled over 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles), which is comparable to the distances reached by caribou in the Arctic region of Canada.

“How is it even possible that there can be this many wild animals?”

Fay acknowledges that his exposure to environmental occurrences has been significant due to his more than four decades of working on conservation programs in Africa. He has witnessed numerous iconic species, including elephants, lions, gorillas, and more. “It’s not easy to wow me, is it?” he asks.

Still, not even he could believe his eyes as he saw antelope scurrying across the countryside.

“How on earth can there be so many wild animals?” he asks in astonishment. For me, it’s less about feelings and more about the land’s biological and ecological potential to support a wide variety of animals. This is just mind-blowing.

South Sudan is thought to be home to the world’s largest known antelope migration

Animals who do not migrate but were unable to escape human settlements have suffered worse. According to the assessment, sedentary animals including giraffes, buffalo, zebras, hartebeests, and waterbucks have experienced devastating decreases in population.

There was an enormous increase in the number of firearms in the nation, and tens of thousands of people were residing in the wilderness. The lack of cultivation led them to consume a significant amount of wildlife, which they also used to feed their troops, according to Fay. Animals on the move could seek refuge in the hinterlands, while sedentary animals were easy prey. “Those species were severely impacted,” he explains.

The natural environment surrounding the migration, however, has remained mostly unaltered due to the absence of civilization. South Sudan is sometimes called “the land of great abundance” and according to Fay, it truly embodies this description in many ways.

South Sudan is thought to be home to the world's largest known antelope migration

South Sudan is thought to be home to the world’s largest known antelope migration

Source: The Wilderness Project/African Parks Graphic: Woojin Lee, CNN

“Often in these post-war wildernesses, peace becomes a serious threat to wildlife populations”

South Sudan is landlocked, although it boasts an abundance of freshwater resources, such as the Sudd, the biggest wetland in Africa, which receives its water from the White Nile’s runoff. The territory was considered impassable for centuries, and the name Sudd comes from the Arabic word meaning barrier. The Sudd represented the southern limit of the Roman Empire’s push into Africa. The region’s biodiversity has been protected by its relative isolation.

The majority of the world’s major river floodplains have either been overused and degraded or have had levees constructed along them, according to Fay. In contrast, the water here flows out of the mountains, reaches the massive floodplain, and then spreads out like a fan. It is very astounding that this massive floodplain is still operational in this contemporary era.

South Sudan was the destination of conservation biologist Steve Boyes, who accompanied African Parks on the survey, because of this one-of-a-kind floodplain. He aimed to record the role of watersheds and rivers, which he describes as “the lifelines of these landscapes,” in the yearly migration as part of his Great Spine of Africa trip, which he was doing in collaboration with the Rolex Perpetual Planet Initiative.

According to him, the pollution of the river that flows into the Sudd by plastic and human waste from South Sudan’s capital Juba is a contributing factor to the region’s record-breaking floods in recent years. Wildlife populations and the ecosystem as a whole could be at risk from this.

He explains that the water is limiting the potential migration routes by eating the landscape. A narrower corridor is being formed by expanding human settlements. The White Nile floods, human growth, and encroachment are all factors that will exacerbate migration problems.

Moreover, he notes that “peace becomes a serious threat to wildlife populations” in many post-war wilderness areas.


Same thing for Fay. Now that the country is experiencing a time of relative calm, efforts to restore the wildlife that thrived in the “no man’s land” created by the fighting are stepping up their game. He mentions that “roads are being built, industrial activities are starting to happen, people’s mobility is increasing, the tribal boundaries are becoming diluted,” among other things.

“When transportation networks are developed, these creatures will undergo a dramatic decline.” Because a physical barrier can interrupt a migratory species’ journey and expose them to hunting, he says, migratory animals are especially susceptible to linear constructions like roadways.

However, he maintains that development need not harm animals. If managed properly, the migration has the potential to bring about many positive changes; in fact, it has the potential to be “an engine for development,” as Fay puts it, citing Tanzania as an example. The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is home to a massive migration of wildebeests and receives up to 200,000 visitors annually.

Boyes points out that the Sudd marshes may be a source of carbon revenue or that community-run conservancies could be formed to benefit people and the environment.

The Great Nile Migration of South Sudan

Filming the World’s Largest Animal Migration in South Sudan

You get the chance to video a number of endangered mammalian species in South Sudan during the World’s Largest Animal Migration. These include antelopes such the Nile lechwe, tiang, Mongalla gazelle, and the largest population of white-eared kob in the world. You will also have the chance to film the local communities, stunning landscapes, and birds, depending on the series you’re interested in covering for your production.

Requirements and fees to film the World’s Largest Animal Migration

The largest animal migration in the world takes place in South Sudan, and filming it requires special authorization. It can be a lengthy and costly procedure to obtain a filming permit in South Sudan, so please give us plenty of time to assist you with this. Working with Kabira Safaris & Tours Africa Plus The Bespoke African Safari Co., the first thing to do is fill out all the required applications. Our local South Sudanese consulate will receive the application and process it accordingly. Permitting practices in South Sudan are notoriously unpredictable. Make sure you have written permission for everything. Get in touch with us through this form, and we’ll assist you with obtaining the necessary permits to shoot the largest animal migration in the world in South Sudan.

When filming in South Sudan, it is against the law to take pictures or video inside any government or military facility, as well as important infrastructure like airports or border controls, without the proper authorization. Arrest, fines, and equipment seizure are all possible consequences. Although it is against the law in South Sudan to film with drones, there may be ways around this depending on your project’s details. In order to obtain further details regarding the South Sudanese migration, the largest in the world, please get in touch with us using this link.

In addition to the aforementioned, you will be responsible for paying for transportation, lodging, visas and work permits, fixer fees, and the shoot itself.

South Sudan Visa and work permit Advice

To enter South Sudan, you’ll have to buy a tourist or business visa. Electronic visas are required for all members of the film crew visiting South Sudan, with the exception of those inhabitants of South Sudan, those nationals of nations exempt from visa requirements, and those nationals whose citizens are eligible for visa on arrival. Your place of citizenship and the country from which you are applying will determine the South Sudan visa application fee and processing time. Therefore, in order to find out the precise amount, you should get in touch with the South Sudanese embassy in your area. A COVID-19 free certificate and proof of yellow fever vaccination may be requested of travelers traveling from countries afflicted by the virus. The requirements for entering and leaving a country, including work permits, visas, and customs and quarantine policies, are subject to frequent revision. To get the most up-to-date information about traveling to South Sudan, you can either contact the embassy in your area or check with us here.

South Sudan Vehicle Hire Services

Kabira Safaris & Tours Africa Or The Bespoke African Safari Co. can assist you in arranging transportation for film crews to capture the World’s Largest Animal Migration. The logistics of this can be tailored to suit your crew’s interests, budget, and the specific road conditions in the areas you’ve chosen to film. For a day with a driver and mechanic, we suggest a customized 4×4 Land Cruiser, which can cost anywhere from USD250 to USD450 per vehicle. Alternatively, 4×4 Safari Vans start at USD250 per van. We need to review your shooting schedule to determine the distance and mileage to calculate the estimated fuel cost.

Kabira Safaris/The Bespoke African Safari Co. in South Sudan to help you film the World’s Largest Animal Migration

Every one of our vehicles is accompanied by a driver who doubles as a site fixer. The majority of our drivers have traveled to nearly every region of South Sudan, so they are well-versed in the local conditions and can repair any problem that arises. While you’re in South Sudan, these will mediate communications between our office and you. If you are looking for a Filming services in South Sudan to assist you with filming the Animal Migration in the World, please contact us here.

Where to Stay during filming the World’s Largest Mammal Migration

Accommodations available at several lodges for the duration of the largest animal migration in the world There is a wide range of possibilities available in South Sudan, from budget to luxury. Based on your preferences and budget, you will decide which accommodations to choose. For information about booking and reservations, please contact us here.

What is the best time to film the World’s Largest Mammal Migration

Capturing the Largest Mammalian Migration on Film, Migration filming in South Sudan takes place annually, with the months of January through June being ideal for spotting animals in the park. Filming animals as they go from the Sudd wetland areas and Bandingilo National Park to Gambella National Park in Ethiopia is possible during this time because it is migration season.