Why this herd of elephants will fly to Kenya

This initiative is a first, it aims to reintroduce animals in captivity into the wild in order to extend their life expectancy and well-being.

YASUYOSHI CHIBA via AFP

Kenya is already home to several elephant sanctuaries, as in this photo in Kimana. (Photo illustration)

A herd of elephants must leave an animal park in the south of England to be taken by plane to Kenya where they will be reintroduced into the wild, an operation presented on Tuesday 6 July as “a world-first” by the Aspinall Foundation that organizes it.

This conservation association, of which Carrie Johnson, the wife of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is director of communication, plans to take next year thirteen elephants from the Howletts Wild Animal Park, located in Kent, 7000 kilometers away, in southern Kenya where two sites are under study.

The Aspinall Foundation wants to fly the herd, which weighs a total of 25 tons, and whose youngest member, Nguvu, was born in March 2020.

“After years of weighing the benefits and risks, at the Aspinall Foundation we decided on this unprecedented project and this true world first,” Carrie Symonds and the foundation’s president, Damian Aspinall, wrote in the columns of The Sun newspaper.La Suite Après Cette Publicité

Extending life expectancy

“This is the first time that a breeding herd of elephants has been reintroduced into the wild,” they point out, an operation that should allow pachyderms to benefit from an extended life expectancy and better well-being, as life in captivity causes stress and depression in these animals.

The association says it will work with anti-poaching teams to help ensure the long-term survival of the herd in Kenya. “Over time, their descendants will number in the hundreds – then in the thousands – and become part of an incomparable ecosystem that helps boost Kenya’s tourism economy,” the duo said, hoping it would be a “revolutionary step for this country and for the nature conservation movement.”

The Aspinall Foundation has already reintroduced captive-born animals into their natural habitats such as gorillas, black rhinos, ashy gibbons, or European bison.

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