Leading article: Animal crackers

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The Independent Online

As part of its preparations for statehood, South Sudan has dreamt up a novel way to put itself on the global map. A blueprint for its capital, Juba, has the urban centre re-planned in the shape of a rhinoceros, while its second city, Wau, is reconfigured as a giraffe. Now no one claims to be talking any latter-day Baron Haussmann or L'Enfant here. After all, these "safari" formations could be seen to full advantage only from the air. But in an age of popular air travel, satellite navigation, Google Earth and the rest, they would not be unappreciated. Indeed, they could set a new trend in branding. Imagine air passengers' delight on detecting the outline of the rhino on the final approach to Juba.

Such blue-sky thinking could add a fresh dimension to town-planning – even here. Would villagers be so hostile to new development if it created a distinctive silhouette from the air? The Green Belt could sprout lambs; Milton Keynes's concrete cows might become old hat if the whole place were re-contoured as a bull. How about a lion for London, modelled on the bronze beasts on Trafalgar Square? And a whole new social hierarchy could be concocted according to where, on the animal, your district figured: adieu East End, hello tail-end, and a whole new way of looking at the world.