Carrie Symonds has reason to celebrate! The animal conservation charity she works for, The Aspinall Foundation, is planning an amazing world-first elephant challenge – to reintroduce 13 elephants from the UK back to Africa.
The project includes flying the elephants – who weigh 25 tonnes – more than 7,000km across the world to return them to their ancestral homeland.
It’s the first time a herd of elephants has ever been rewilded anywhere in the world, and includes three calves along with an entire breeding herd of elephants.
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The incredible elephant rewilding project is a world-first
The elephants are currently housed in an eight-acre enclosure at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent; the Howlett’s elephant herd is one of the most successful breeding herds of elephants in Europe, and include two inter-related families and while they are receiving the best care possible, The Aspinall Foundation believes that these animals belong in the wild, and that no elephants belong in captivity.
To help the elephants settle into their new life in the wild, The Aspinall Foundation are using their experience from previous rewilding projects to help guide the elephants, and are working with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, who have been at the forefront of African elephant conservation for more than four decades, along with the Kenya Wildlife Service.
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Damian Aspinall, Chairman of The Aspinall Foundation, said: “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.
He added: “If this is successful, I would love to see elephants held in captivity all over the world be rewilded too.”
The elephants will be flown from the UK to Africa, their new home
The general public can get involved in supporting this project too, by donating through the 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 there.
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The Aspinall Foundation also hopes that this rewilding project will create a positive effect in the zoo industry by discouraging the trade in elephants globally and strengthening commitments to return animals back to the wild, wherever possible.
For more information, or to donate to the project, visit justgiving.com/campaign/backtothewild