A specially-equipped DHL Boeing 767 has transported six endangered gorillas in a 9 000 km-trip from Kent in the UK back to Africa – first to Lagos, Nigeria, and finally to the wild in Franceville, Gabon, DHL said in a statement issued on Sunday.
The return of these nine silverback gorillas by DHL from Port Lympne Wild Animal Park to the Batéké Plateau National Park has been made with the partnership with the Aspinall Foundation.
The Aspinall Foundation said its “Back to the Wild” initiative is part of its ongoing commitment to restock the wild with endangered and critically endangered species, following its uniquely successful programmes of captive breeding at its Kent wildlife parks.
Western lowland gorillas are classed as a critically endangered species, and this is the first attempt ever at returning an entire family to its natural habitat, DHL said.
In addition to the animals, which have a combined weight of 620kg, no less than 1 200 kg of food and vets’ equipment accompanied them on their journey home to the wild.
To accommodate the gorillas’ transport schedule, DHL said it took two different aircraft out of commission and temporarily reconfigured its global network to ensure they could be delivered in as tight a timeframe as possible.
This unique conservation partnership has seen the animals transported from the UK to Brussels in the plane, and in the helicopter to the national park in collaboration with the Gabonese authorities, DHL said.
“It’s no mean feat moving a family of nine gorillas across the world. This is an extremely important cause and a great logistical undertaking for DHL – our priority throughout the operation has been the safety and well being of the animals,” Phil Couchman, CEO of DHL Express UK & Ireland said.
“In working closely with the Aspinall Foundation to prepare for the move, we ensured the smoothest possible journey for the gorillas.”
(Issued by DHL)