The gorillas were transported 9,000 km, departing from the UK to Brussels, and flown in a specially equipped Boeing 767 to Lagos, Nigeria, and then onto Franceville, Gabon
DHL's Boeing 767 on the runway, ready to deliver the gorillas
In a unique conservation initiative in partnership with The Aspinall Foundation, DHL (http://www.dhl.com), the world’s leading logistics company, has delivered a family of nine silverback gorillas from Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent to the Batéké Plateau National Park, Gabon.
The gorillas were transported 9,000 km, departing from the UK to Brussels, and flown in a specially equipped Boeing 767 to Lagos, Nigeria, and then onto Franceville, Gabon. For the final leg of the journey they were flown in a helicopter to the national park in collaboration with the Gabonese authorities.
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 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.
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. The Aspinall Foundation’s “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.
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 – our priority throughout the operation has been the safety and well being of the animals.
“In working closely with The Aspinall Foundation, a world-leading conservation charity, to prepare for the move, we ensured the smoothest possible journey for the gorillas.
Charles Brewer, Managing Director for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa, said, “Our dedicated “special delivery” team, which includes staff from across DHL’s operation, from aircraft engineers to cargo handlers, security teams, pilots and drivers, have done an excellent job of ensuring the success of this project. We’re delighted to have been of assistance to the gorilla family and we hope they enjoy their new home.”
Damian Aspinall, pioneering conservationist and Chairman of The Aspinall Foundation, 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.”