A pioneering rewilding project is set to reintroduce a herd of elephants currently residing in Kent to their natural habitat in Kenya. This marks the first time a breeding herd will be returned to the wild.
The 13 elephants, with all but one born and raised at Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury, will travel over 7,000 miles to their new home in southern Kenya.
The Aspinall Foundation, a conservation charity that manages the park, will collaborate with The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Kenya Wildlife Service to rewild the elephants, including three calves.
The herd consists of two interrelated families living in an eight-acre enclosure in Kent. The plan is to reintroduce them as one larger herd. The Aspinall Foundation strongly believes that all elephants belong in the wild and no elephant should be kept in captivity.
Two potential sites in southern Kenya are being evaluated, offering natural conditions suitable for the elephants.
Although the elephants will face new risks, such as poaching, the organizations involved are well-equipped and will work closely with anti-poaching teams to ensure the animals’ long-term survival.
Damian Aspinall, chairman of The Aspinall Foundation, expressed enthusiasm for the project and hoped to see more captive elephants rewilded worldwide if successful.
Angela Sheldrick, CEO of The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, emphasized the importance of returning the elephants to their rightful home in Africa, living wild and free.
Carrie Johnson, the wife of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is the head of communications for the Aspinall Foundation. Together with Mr.
Aspinall, they highlighted the significance of this rewilding effort in The Sun, mentioning its potential to boost the Kenyan tourist economy and help preserve the ecosystem.
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