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A World First For Elephants


An entire herd of elephants from a British zoo will be released into the wild in Kenya in what conservationists have hailed as a world first.


The 13 elephants currently reside at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, southern England, and will be flown more than 4,350 miles to Kenya within the next few months. The Aspinall Foundation, a conservation group, is collaborating on the project with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Kenya Wildlife Service.





It will be the first time that a herd of elephants has been "rewilded" in the world, organizers say. It is hoped that the project will discourage the global trade in elephants and encourage the return of animals to the wild where possible, under the premise that "no elephants belong in captivity."





The project is not without controversy, however, and organizers admit "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."






While rewilding elephants is "uncharted territory," according to the foundation website, other species have been released "very successfully." Last year the foundation sent two cheetahs back to the wild in South Africa, for example.






Angela Sheldrick, CEO of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, concurs. "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....We look forward to offering that same opportunity to these 13 elephants when they set foot on African soil."



The elephants will be transported in individual cages customized to their needs, accompanied by veterinarians, on a specially designed 747 aircraft aptly dubbed the "Dumbo Jet." We wish the venture success!

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