(PRWEB UK) 19 June 2012
The Aspinall Foundation, headed by passionate conservationist and wild animal park owner, Damian Aspinall, has successfully translocated three critically endangered black rhino from Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent back to the wild.
The move, to boost reintroduced populations of black rhino in the wild, is a bold decision given the stark and current threat of poaching. With a wild population thought to number less than 800 individuals, Eastern black rhino are the rarest of the three remaining rhino subspecies in Africa. The Aspinall Foundation has successfully carried out similar reintroductions and is confident that the heavily guarded reserve will be the perfect place for the three rhino to give the indigenous population of black rhino a much needed boost.
Damian Aspinall said: This represents a massive step in the unique ambitions of our Foundation. We have always been passionately committed to restocking natural habitats with species which have become critically endangered.
The three rhinos – two females named Grumeti and Zawadi and one male named Monduli attracted royal attention when Prince William, the Royal Patron of Tusk Trust, paid a private visit to them and their keepers at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park recently. The prince came face to face with Zawadi and even took part in hand feeding her.
Grumeti and Monduli, were born at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, whilst Zawadi joined the park from Berlin Zoo. The group, now enjoying the African climate, were subject to weeks of patient training by keepers who have been painstakingly preparing the intrepid three for their African adventure. As part of this preparation the rhinos diets were gradually changed and the rhino also spent time on the African Experience, a 140 acre site at the wild animal park, where they mixed with other African wildlife such as zebra, giraffe and wildebeest.
Adrian Harland, Animal Director said: Our dedicated keepers have been working closely with Monduli, Grumeti and Zawadi over the last few months, preparing them for life in Tanzania. Their diet has been altered to include even more fresh browse and leaves, as this is what they will be primarily eating in the wild and the keepers have been with them every day using a lot of contact techniques in order to reassure them during the flight and at their new home. Im delighted that the move went so smoothly and I have to thank everyone involved for making this operation successful.
The three rhino flew from Manston airport to a refuelling stop in Bergamo, Italy and then on to Kilimanjaro National Airport in Tanzania. DHL, the worlds leading logistics provider, laid on a specially customised Boeing 757 aircraft specifically modified to provide safe and supervised transportation, during which, the rhinos were provided with in flight meals of carrots, celery, lucerne (hay), apples, spinach and bananas.
The enormous undertaking, in partnership with Tusk Trust, DHL and Virgin Unite, has put The Aspinall Foundation at the forefront of conservation and established the charity as a cutting edge organisation confident to undertake ambitious and bold plans to maintain their efforts to protect species under real threat from extinction.
Charlie Mayhew, CEO of Tusk Trust commented: The success of this delicate operation is as a result of months of careful collaborative work between The Aspinall Foundation and Tusk Trust. We are particularly grateful to DHL one of Tusks corporate partners, for their immense generosity in providing the aircraft for this historic move.
Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Unite, the not for profit foundation of the Virgin Group, also supported the translocation of the rhinos by providing a generous donation to cover the costs of creating special comfortable crates for the rhinos to travel.
The move is just one of the pioneering conservation charitys goals this year, with other captive born animals expected to be released to the wild during the course of the next few months and into 2013. Follow the animals stories with keepers blogs, video footage and exclusive pictures at http://www.aspinallfoundation.org/backtothewild
Pictures available for publication from Getty Images showing rhinos leaving Kent, in transit and arriving in Africa. Getty Images also have available for publication photographs of HRH Prince William visiting the rhinos at The Aspinall Foundations Port Lympne Wild Animal Park. Please contact Jo Mcknight on 0203 227 2207 e mail: jo.mcknight (at) gettyimages (dot) com or Jennifer Stanley on 0203 227 2502 e mail: jennifer.stanley (at) gettyimages (dot) com
About The Aspinall Foundation:
The Aspinall Foundation manages conservation projects in Congo, Gabon, Indonesia and Madagascar, as well as providing financial support to various partner projects around the world. The conservation charitys important work helps prevent some of the most endangered species on the planet from becoming extinct.
The Aspinall Foundation, working in conjunction with Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks in Kent, is one of the most successful breeders of captive endangered animals in the world. With unrivalled achievements in husbandry the conservation charity boasts 135 gorilla births, 33 black rhino, 123 clouded leopards, 33 Javan gibbons, 104 Javan langur and 20 African elephants.
DHL is the global market leader in the logistics industry and The Logistics company for the world. DHL commits its expertise in international express, air and ocean freight, road and rail transportation, contract logistics and international mail services to its customers. A global network composed of more than 220 countries and territories and about 275,000 employees worldwide offers customers superior service quality and local knowledge to satisfy their supply chain requirements. DHL accepts its social responsibility by supporting climate protection, disaster management and education.
DHL is part of Deutsche Post DHL. The Group generated revenue of 53 billion euros in 2011.
About Virgin Unite:
Virgin Unite is the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group. We unite people to tackle tough social and environmental problems in an entrepreneurial way. Our aim is to help revolutionize the way businesses, government and the social sector work together driving business as a force for good. This is based on the belief that this is the only way we can tackle the scale and urgency of the challenges facing the world today. Virgin Unites overheads are covered by Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Group, meaning that 100% of additional donations received go direct to the frontline where they are needed most.
About Tusk Trust
Tusk Trust was founded in 1990 since when it has developed considerable experience initiating and funding conservation and community development programmes right across Africa. The charity, whose Royal patron is Prince William, has invested over