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Herd of Elephants to be Moved from UK to Kenya in Rewilding ‘World First’


David Rolfee / Howletts

Elephants are famous for their migrations – long marches through savannas and deserts made entirely from memory – but for 13 captive elephants in Kent, their journey will be a little different.

That’s because their trip will be one-way, by plane, and it will be the first of its kind, a recovery effort that hopes to fly the collective 25 tons of pachyderm back to their ancestral homeland of Kenya.

Such a challenge requires experienced minds, but the team behind the gigantic company is one of the best. Experts in wild animal relocation, the Aspinall Foundation is working with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Kenyan Wildlife Service.

TO Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, near Canterbury, the Aspinall Foundation ensures that every exotic animal that is raised and lives safely there generates the income they need to reintroduce themselves or their descendants into the wild.

David Rolfee / Howletts

His ‘Back to the Wild’ program has already seen an impressive number of animals born in the parks of Kent return to their natural habitats. Western lowland gorillas, black rhinoceros, Javanese langurs and gibbons, European bison, and clouded leopards not only thrive in the wild, but also breed successfully.

On the Kenyan side, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has been protecting wild elephants and rescuing the injured, caring for them back to health, and reintroducing them into the wild of Kenya for more than 50 years.

When the Howletts breeding herd enters Kenyan soil after their 7,000-kilometer (4,500-mile) journey, it will be the longest and largest elephant release effort in history.

A gigantic task

While the amount of money and work that will go into building special boxes, continually monitoring elephants, loading them onto trucks, and then onto the back of a cargo plane seems too much to believe, the program leaders feel there is no other way. option.

David Rolfee / Howletts

Carrie Johnson, the wife of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is actually the communications director for the Aspinall Foundation, and wrote in Sun, explaining your decision:

“After years of weighing the benefits and risks, we at the Aspinall Foundation have settled on an unprecedented project and a first in the real world,” he said. “This is the first time that a herd of breeding elephants has wilted again.”

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Damian Aspinall, founder of the foundation, said BBC Radio Kent: “Elephants don’t do well in captivity. Almost none are born. Females live about half their natural life. More than half of the elephants in captivity are obese. They suffer from foot problems, skin problems, [and] mental anguish. “

“I think we would have done something good in the world if we could achieve this,” he added. “Once they come out, they will be very happy, they will roam, they will meet other wild elephants, they will reproduce.”

The 13 elephants include three calves, which led to the idea of ​​naming the specially designed 747 in which the Jet “Dumbo”.

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Angela Sheldrick, CEO of the Sheldrick Trust, saying: “Since the 1970s we have been helping elephants. Providing a wild future for more than 260 rescued orphans and operating extensive protection projects to ensure that they, their wild-born babies and their wild relatives are better protected throughout their lives. “

“We hope to offer the same opportunity to these 13 elephants when they step on African soil, the home to which they belong and can live wildly and freely as nature intended.”

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