First-Of-Its-Kind Elephant Rewilding Project Plans To Release A Herd Of 13 Captive Elephants From The UK Back To Their Ancestral Homeland Of Kenya
Animal conservation non-profit, The Aspinall Foundation, is quite literally taking on its largest ever conservation challenge. They will be flying 13 elephants, weighing 25 tons total, more than 7,000 km (4,349 miles) across the globe to return individuals from this iconic species to their ancestral homeland.
This is the first time that a herd of elephants has ever been rewilded anywhere in the world. No elephant rewilding project of this scale has ever been attempted before.
The Aspinall Foundation will work with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Kenya Wildlife Service to rewild an entire breeding herd of 13 African elephants, that includes three calves.
The elephants are currently located in an eight acre enclosure at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent. The Howletts‘ elephant herd is one of the most successful breeding herds of elephants in Europe. They comprise two inter-related families but the charity’s intention is to rewild them as one larger herd. Although they are receiving the best care possible, The Aspinall Foundation believes that these animals belong in the wild and that no elephant belongs in captivity.
Two different sites, both in the south of Kenya, are currently under consideration, both of which provide the perfect natural conditions for the elephants.
There will be some new risks that the elephants did not face in captivity, but The Aspinall Foundation’s experience of rewilding projects around the globe will help guide the animals’ transition, as will the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, who have been at the forefront of African elephant conservation for more than four decades, pioneering the rescue, rehabilitation, and rewilding of orphan elephants.
The general public can get involved in supporting this first-of-its-kind endeavor by donating through the project’s dedicated JustGiving page. All funds raised will go to help transport the elephants safely to Kenya and to help them transition to their new lives in the wild once they are in Africa.
The Aspinall Foundation also hopes that this rewilding project will stimulate a positive effect in the zoo industry by discouraging the trade in elephants globally and strengthening commitments to return animals back into the wild, wherever possible.
“This is an incredibly exciting project and a genuine world-first. As with any conservation project of this magnitude, there are obviously big risks, but we consider them well worth it to get these magnificent elephants back into the wild where they belong,” said Damian Aspinall, Chairman of The Aspinall Foundation.
“By supporting the project, members of the public will be part of conservation history, helping to restore an iconic species to its ancestral homeland,” said Aspinall. “If this is successful, I would love to see elephants held in captivity all over the world being rewilded.”
“Since the 1970s, we have been helping elephants, providing a wild future to more than 260 rescued orphans and operating extensive protection projects to ensure they, their wildborn babies, and their wild kin are best protected throughout their lives,” said Angela Sheldrick, CEO of Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. “We look forward to offering that same opportunity to these 13 elephants when they set foot on African soil, where they belong, and are able to live wild and free as nature intended.”
If you would like to help The Aspinall Foundation with this history-making rewilding project for elephants, please donate HERE!