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Each elephants will be transported in an individual cage. Photo Howletts


(CNN) — An entire herd of elephants from a British zoo will be released into the wild in Kenya in what conservationists have hailed as a world first.

The 13 elephants live at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, southern England, and will be flown more than 7,000 kilometers (4,350 miles) to Kenya, according to a press release from animal conservation charity the Aspinall Foundation Tuesday.

Twelve of the elephants were born and raised in Kent and one was born in Israel. None of the animals have ever lived in the wild.

The group weighs 25 tons in total and includes three calves. It will be the first time that a herd of elephants has been "rewilded" in the world, organizers say.

Rewilding aims to restore ecosystems to a natural state, and often involves the reintroduction of native animals.

The charity said that it hopes the project will discourage the global trade in elephants and encourage the return of animals to the wild where possible, adding that no elephants belong in captivity.

The Aspinall Foundation is working on the project with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Kenya Wildlife Service, and two sites in the south of Kenya are under consideration for their release.

"This is an incredibly exciting project and a genuine world-first," said Damian Aspinall, chairman of the Aspinall Foundation, in the press release.

"As with any conservation project of this magnitude, there are obviously big risks, but we consider them well worth it to get these magnificent elephants back into the wild where they belong."

While rewilding elephants is "uncharted territory," according to the foundation website, other species have been released "very successfully." Last year the foundation sent two cheetahs back to the wild in South Africa, it added.

"Since the 1970s, we have been helping elephants, providing a wild future to more than 260 rescued orphans and operating extensive protection projects to ensure they, their wildborn babies and their wild kin are best protected throughout their lives," said Angela Sheldrick, CEO of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, in the press release.

"We look forward to offering that same opportunity to these 13 elephants when they set foot on African soil -- home, where they belong, and able to live wild and free as nature intended."

The elephants will be transported in individual cages customized to their needs, and vets will be on hand throughout the flight, according to the Aspinall Foundation website. Conservationists are raising funds for the project. - Jack Guy, CNN


NAIROBI, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Kenya will leverage the untapped African market to boost tourist arrivals and hasten the sector's recovery after a slump caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, an official has said.

Wausi Walya, Corporate Affairs Manager at Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) said that marketing of the country as an attractive destination for visitors from the continent has intensified, buoyed by the easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

"There are immense potential in both the regional and the African market which we are trying to capture through various platforms," Walya said Sunday evening during a meeting with tour operators from Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia in the coastal city of Mombasa.

She said Kenya will be organizing trips for African tour operators to familiarize them with scenic attractions in the country including coastal beaches, wildlife sanctuaries and archaeological sites.

According to Walya, Kenya considers the African tourism market as strategic with Uganda leading in the number of visitors to the country.

Walya said that Kenya has witnessed a gradual spike in the number of tourist arrivals from the region thanks to aggressive marketing and the easing of red tape at border posts. - Xinhua


NAIROBI, June 30 (Xinhua) -- It is early morning and Eliud Muraya is busy loading the merchandise he imported abroad to replenish his electronic goods shop located in Nairobi's central business district.

The 44-year-old father of two is delighted since his consignment of cargo that arrived at the Mombasa port three days ago, has already been delivered to his premises.

The reason is that he chose to use the Chinese-built Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) which spans a distance of about 480 kilometres to ferry the goods.

Due to the improvement of its transportation processes, the SGR now delivers cargo at a shorter time as compared to use of heavy commercial vehicles like trucks.

The trader has been importing items for the past four years and he used to rely on long distance trucks to move his cargo from the Mombasa port to his shop in Nairobi.

Muraya told Xinhua on Wednesday that use of the road network to transport cargo to Nairobi used to take 30 days due to delays in clearing cargo at the port of Mombasa.

"However these days by using SGR cargo clearance takes less than a week," said Muraya.

Kenneth Abola, a 31-year-old trader, has been in the business of importing clothes from China in the last decade.

Abola has also switched to using the SGR in order to benefit from the speedy transportation and clearance process afforded by the modern railway transport system.

He said that his profits have increased because of the less time cargo spent on the road and is therefore able to deliver customers' orders on time.

Philip Mainga, managing director of Kenya Railways, said that they have partnered with the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Alliance of Kenya in order to ease the transportation of cargo by traders along the SGR.

"We have a team that identifies cargo at the port of Mombasa that has been imported by small traders destined for Nairobi which is given priority on the SGR," Mainga said.

He said that small-scale business owners are only able to import consignments that are not sufficient to fill one 20-foot container, so they have to partner with other traders in order to have enough merchandise equivalent to the container.

Kenya Railways has also developed a deconsolidation centre in Nairobi close to the main railway station where the traders can pick up their cargo once the containers are opened.

Mainga said that they have a special rate of 54,000 shillings (about 500 U.S. dollars) for transporting 20 foot container between the port of Mombasa and the Nairobi SGR terminal.

The freight charges via SGR are favourable when compared to the road transport which costs at least 800 dollars between Mombasa and Nairobi.

Samuel Karanja, CEO of the MSME Alliance of Kenya, said that the SGR has revolutionized transportation of goods between the port of Mombasa and Nairobi because it offers faster and convenient service.

Karanja said that SGR has improved the operating environment for small-scale traders while ensuring that cargo importation is a viable and profitable venture. - Xinhua

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