In the first ever attempt to return a whole family of gorillas back to their natural habitat, DHL have delivered a family of nine silverback gorillas from the Port Lympne Wild animal Park in Kent, UK to the 1000 acre Batéké Plateau National Park in Gabon. The initiative is carried out in partnership with the Aspinall Foundation as part of the conservation group's "Back to the Wild" campaign.
The gorillas, with a combined weight of 629 kg, along with no less than 1,200 kg of food and veterinarian equipment, were transported from the UK to Brussels and then on to Lagos, Nigeria on a Boeing 767. From there, they were transported to Franceville, Gabon before being flown to the national park via helicopter by the Gabonese authorities for the final leg of their journey. DHL adjusted their regular flying schedule to ensure the gorillas could be delivered in as tight a time-frame as possible.
Djala, the head of the gorilla family (pictured) was born in 1982 in Africa's Congo basin. His mother and the rest of his family were taken by poachers before he was six months old and after many tribulations, he eventually came to Howletts Wild Animal Park in the UK at the age of four. His journey has now come full circle upon his return to the area of his birth!
Phil Couchman, CEO of DHL Express UK & Ireland commented: "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" Chairman of The Aspinall Foundation Damian Aspinall said: "The Aspinall Foundation's Back To The Wild initiative is unique and comprises easily the most ambitious reintroduction of the critically endangered species into the wild ever undertaken anywhere in the world. We are delighted that DHL have so generously come on board as our partners in this important and exciting repatriation project."