Original article from Kent Live
Elephants from Kent's Howletts Park are being rehomed in Africa.
Animal conservation charity The Aspinall Foundation is taking on whey they call their "largest ever challenge" as they fly 13 elephants back to their ancestral homelands.
The project is a first of its kind as no rewilding project of this scale has taken place before.
The elephants weigh a whopping total of 25 tonnes and will travel more than 7,000 km on their journey to Africa.
Signing up to the KentLive newsletter means you'll get the latest news direct to your inbox twice a day.
It couldn't be simpler and it takes seconds – simply press here, enter your email address and follow the instructions. You can also enter your email address in the box below the picture on most desktop and mobile platforms.
You can also sign up to our website and comment on our stories by pressing here and signing in.
The 13 elephants currently reside in an eight-acre enclosure in Howletts Wild Animal Park, found near Canterbury.
The herd is one of the most successful breeding herds in Europe and is comprised of two inter-related families but the charity plan to rewild them as one larger herd.
The Aspinall Foundation mention that the elephants are "receiving the best care possible" but that they "belong in the wild, and that no elephant belongs in captivity".
The elephants' new home is still to be deiced with two sites in Kenya being considered and the elephants will be supported during their rewilding by The Aspinall Foundation and the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
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.
“By supporting the project, members of the public will be part of conservation history, helping to restore an iconic species to its ancestral homeland.
“If this is successful, I would love to see elephants held in captivity all over the world being rewilded too.”
Angela Sheldrick, CEO of The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, said: “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 wild-born 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 – home, where they belong, and able to live wild and free as nature intended.”