Kudos to the Aspinall Foundation, Kenya Wildlife Service and Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for their efforts to return 13 captive African savannah elephants to the wild in a first-of-its kind operation. The herd of 13, which includes three calves, were all but one born at Howletts Wild Animal Park, a private zoo in Kent, England, according to The Guardian.
When they get to Kenya, the savannah elephants, who are an endangered species, will be held in an enclosure for six months so conservationists can monitor their reaction to the different climate and diseases.
The Aspinall Foundation, the British wildlife charity that operates the Kent zoo, has experience facilitating the successful reintroductions of gorillas, rhinos and other species from captivity, according to The Guardian.
“This is an incredibly exciting project and a genuine world first,” said Damian Aspinall, the chairman of the Aspinall Foundation. “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.
“If this is successful, I would love to see elephants held in captivity all over the world be rewilded too.”
Friends of Animals couldn’t agree more.