Captive elephants in UK to be released into the wild in Kenya

Posted by David Henning on 6 July 2021

A herd of African elephants, born and raised in Howletts Wild Animal Park, UK, will be transported to Kenya so they can be “rewilded”, The Guardian reports.

A mother and her calf in Howletts Animal Park, Kent.

The herd of 13 elephants, which include three calves, will board a plane as part of a 7000km journey to Kenya, in a process of rewilding the animals. 12 of the 13 were born in captivity, in Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent.

The venture is being carried out by the Aspinall Foundation, the Kenya Wildlife Service and Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Their travel arrangements are yet to be confirmed, but the elephants are likely be transported fully conscious in large transportation crates in a cargo aircraft.

In preparation for the long trek, the animals might spend time in the crates before they embark in order to acclimatise them for the stressful journey ahead. The elephants will be will be overseen by South African specialists in elephant transportation throughout the journey.

Upon arrival in Kenya, the herd will be homed in an enclosure so that conservationists can monitor their reactions to the new climate and diseases. Damian Aspinall, chairman of the Aspinall foundation commented that this is an exciting project and a genuine world first and that it is worth the risk involved to get these magnificent creatures back into the wild.

Their final destination has not yet been confirmed, but there is assurance that it will be a suitable biome to support large mammals. Damian went on further to comment that if this project proves successful, he “would love to see elephants held in captivity all over the world rewilded too.” So far, it is estimated that there are still 15 000-20 000 elephants held in captivity.


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Picture: Wikimedia Commons

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