From Great Britain to Kenya: for the first time to release a herd of elephants from a zoo in the wild

(CNN) – An entire herd of elephants from a British zoo will be released into the wild in Kenya, a move that, according to conservationists, is unprecedented.

The 13 elephants live in Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, southern England, and will be flown more than 7,000 kilometers to Kenya, according to a press release from the Aspinall Foundation, dedicated to the conservation of animals.

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 tons in total and includes three young. According to the organizers, it will be the first time that a herd of elephants has been “returned to the wild”.

Each elephant will be moved in a cage. (Credit: Howletts)

The goal of the measure is to restore ecosystems to their natural states, which often involves reintroducing indigenous animals.

The organization says it hopes the project will discourage the global elephant trade and encourage the return of the animals to their natural environment when possible. He adds that no elephant should be in captivity.

How will elephants from Great Britain travel to Kenya?

The Aspinall Foundation is working on the project with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Kenya Wildlife Service. Two possible sites for release are being studied.

“This is an incredibly exciting project and a true first time (in which it is done),” said Damian Aspinall, president of the Aspinall Foundation.

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“As with any conservation project of this magnitude, obviously there are great risks, but we consider it worthwhile to return these magnificent elephants to the wild, where they belong.”

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

“Since the 1970s we have helped elephants, providing a future in the wild for more than 260 rescued orphans and carrying out large protection projects to ensure that they, their wild-born calves and their wild relatives are protected from the in the best possible way throughout his life, “Angela Sheldrick, CEO of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, said in the press release.

“We hope we can offer that same opportunity to these 13 elephants when they step on African soil, their home, where they belong, and the possibility of living in the wild and free as nature conceives it,” he added.

Two possible release sites in Kenya are being considered. (Credit: Howletts)

The elephants will travel in individual cages adapted to their needs. Veterinarians will be present throughout the flight, according to the Aspinall Foundation website. Conservationists are raising funds for the project.

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