13 elephants, the largest ever herd to be introduced back to their ancestral homelands, are preparing to leave a zoo in Kent to cross the globe to Kenya.
The elephants, weighing 25 tonnes will fly 7,000 km in specially-designed crates, the first time such a major rewilding project has ever been attempted.
The Aspinall Foundation will work with The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Kenya Wildlife Service to rewild the entire breeding herd of 13 African elephants, including 3 calves.
The elephants are currently located in a 8-acre enclosure at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent. The Howletts’ elephant herd is one of the most successful breeding herds of African elephants in Europe. They comprise two inter related families but our intention is to rewild them as one larger herd.
Two different sites, both in the south of Kenya, are currently under consideration, both of which are believed to provide the perfect natural conditions for the elephants.
There’s a number of reasons why the elephants are being moved. Elephants in captivity don’t live as long as their cousins in the wild. Female elephants live to half the age of their wild cousinsm in particular.
Elephants also don’t breed well in captivity.
Rewilding captive elephants in this way will demonstrate what can be done to ensure elephants really thrive.
Last year, the foundation reintroduced two cheetahs, Saba and Nairo, back to South Africa.