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According to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, from the 1970s to the 1980s, ivory trade was rapidly expanding and wiped out about half of Africa’s 1.3 million elephants. Much more recently, between 2007 to 2014, the Great Elephant Census reported a 30% decline in elephant population – equivalent to a loss of 144,000 elephants from a population of 480,000. Today, there are approximately 352,271 elephants remaining in 18 African countries. Despite this, there is much hope for the elephant in Kenya and across the continent.

A herd of elephants living in Kent are to be part of a world-first rewilding project in which they are reintroduced to the wild in Kenya. All but one of the 13 elephants were born and raised in Kent, and will be transported by plane over 7,000 miles from Howletts Wild Animal Park, near Canterbury, to a site in southern Kenya.

Conservation charity, the Aspinall Foundation, which runs the park in Kent, will work with The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Kenya Wildlife Service to rewild the entire breeding herd of elephants which includes three calves.

The elephants currently live in an eight-acre enclosure and the herd is made up of two interrelated families, but the charity’s intention is to rewild them as one larger herd. Two different sites, both in the south of Kenya, are currently under consideration, and both will provide natural conditions for the elephants.

The foundation said there will be some new risks the elephants did not face in captivity – such as poaching – but the organizations are highly experienced, and will work alongside anti-poaching teams to ensure the animals’ long-term survival. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy offers a safe haven for elephants within the conservancy. Depending on the season of the year, Lewa is home to about 400 migratory elephants.

Lewa regularly monitors the state of elephant populations across the conservancy and across Northern Kenya, collaborating with a host of partners, including Save The Elephants, the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Northern Rangelands Trust.

Alongside from joint-patrols, together with our partners, we often identify a number of elephants and place non-invasive tracking collars on them. These tracking collars provide us real-time information on elephant location, giving us insights on herd movement and behaviour. The tracking devices also allow us to quickly identify and respond to threats, such as poaching or human-wildlife conflict.

Lewa serves as a safe refuge for the critically endangered black rhino and the endangered Grevy’s zebra, as well as the elephant, lion, giraffe, wild dog and other iconic wildlife species in Kenya. The Conservancy is also home to more than 400 species of birds.

Author: ibrahim

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