Elephants to be moved from UK zoo to Kenyan wilderness in ‘world first’


(CNN) – An entire herd of elephants from a British zoo will be released into the wild in Kenya, which conservationists have hailed as a world first.

The 13 elephants live at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, southern England, and will be flown over 7,000 kilometers (4,350 miles) to Kenya, according to a press release from the Aspinall Foundation animal conservation charity Tuesday.

Twelve of the elephants were born and raised in Kent and one was born in Israel. None of the animals have ever lived in the wild.

The group weighs 25 tonnes in total and includes three calves. It will be the first time that a herd of elephants will be “wild” in the world, according to the organizers.

Rewilding aims to restore ecosystems to a natural state and often involves the reintroduction of native animals.

The charity said it hopes the project will discourage the global elephant trade and encourage animals to return to the wild where possible, adding that no elephant belongs in captivity.

Each elephant will be transported in an individual cage.

Howletts

The Aspinall Foundation is working on the project with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Kenya Wildlife Service, and two sites in southern Kenya are being considered for release.

“This is an incredibly exciting project and a real world first,” said Damian Aspinall, president of the Aspinall Foundation, in the press release.

“As with any conservation project of this magnitude, there are obviously big risks, but we consider it worth it to bring these magnificent elephants back to the wilderness where they belong.”

UK elephant herd of 13 to be rescued in Kenya

Two sites in southern Kenya are being considered for the elephants.

Howletts

While the rewilding of elephants is “uncharted territory”, according to the foundation’s website, other species have been released “with great success.” Last year, the foundation returned two cheetahs to the wild in South Africa, he added.

“Since the 1970s, we have been helping elephants, providing a wild future for more than 260 rescued orphans and carrying out extensive protection projects to ensure that they, their wild-born babies and their wild parents are better protected throughout. of their lives, ”said Angela Sheldrick, CEO of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, in the press release.

“We look forward to giving these 13 elephants the same opportunity when they set foot on African soil – home, where they belong and able to live wild and free as nature intended. . “

The elephants will be transported in individual cages tailored to their needs, and veterinarians will be available throughout the flight, according to the Aspinall Foundation website. Environmentalists are raising funds for the project.

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