(PRWEB UK) 3 December 2012
Earlier this year, The Aspinall Foundation - a world leading conservation charity headed by passionate conservationist and wild animal park owner, Damian Aspinall - successfully translocated three critically endangered black rhino from Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent to a heavily protected reserve in Tanzania.
The three rhinos received a royal seal of approval for their journey when Prince William paid a private visit to them and their keepers at the wild animal park near Ashford. The prince came face to face with Zawadi and even took part in hand feeding her.
The amazing footage, featuring the three rhinos, Grumeti, Monduli and Zawadi, shows their incredible journey from Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent to the Mkomazi reserve in Tanzania and highlights Damian Aspinall’s ethos on conservation in the 21st Century.
Damian Aspinall explained: ‘The idea that we should just breed these animals and keep them in zoos and wild animal parks for the rest of their lives makes no sense to me – to breed these animals in captivity, the end game has to be to return them home.’
The move was 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 added: ‘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, unless we do things like this – there’s no hope for them as a species.’
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 painstakingly prepared 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.
Damian commented: ‘The relationship the rhinos have with their keepers during this process is absolutely vital – the team have been fundamental in ensuring this move went so smoothly. When that rhino’s foot touches Tanzanian soil you think, this is why we’re in it, this is why we do what we do.’
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 charity’s 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