Where the wild things belong
In a remarkable attempt to save the African western lowland gorillas from extinction, the Aspinall Foundation and DHL have managed to deliver a family of nine silverback gorillas from the Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent, England, to the Batéké Plateau National Park in Gabon.
The 9 000 km trip, initiated by the foundation and the logistics company, is the first ever attempt at returning an entire family of this critically endangered species to its natural habitat.
Says pioneering conservationist and chairman of the Aspinall Foundation, Damian Aspinall: “The Foundation’s Back To The Wild initiative is unique and comprises easily the most ambitious reintroduction of this critically endangered species into the wild ever undertaken anywhere in the world. We are delighted that DHL has so generously come on board as our partner in this important and exciting repatriation project.”
DHL commissioned two of its aircrafts and temporarily reconfigured its global network to ensure the gorillas could be delivered in as tight a timeframe as possible. A specially equipped Boeing 767 departed from the United Kingdom and flew via Brussels in Belgium, to Lagos, Nigeria. The final leg was made by helicopter to Franceville, Gabon, where the gorillas were collected at the national park, by the Gabonese authorities.
Phil Couchman, CEO of DHL Express UK and Ireland, says: “This is an extremely important cause and has been a great logistical undertaking for DHL – our priority throughout the operation has been the safety and well-being of the animals. When preparing for the move, by working closely with the Aspinall Foundation, a world-leading conservation charity, we ensured the smoothest possible journey for the gorillas.”