Every animal Born Free rescues is given the best possible life and with careful rehabilitation some individuals can be ‘homeward bound’.
Returning wild animals to the wild has always been a passion for international wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation. The inspirational lioness Elsa, featured on the charity logo, led the first brave steps, guided to freedom in Kenya by George and Joy Adamson.
In 1990 Born Free released three ex-performing dolphins from the UK back to the ocean in the Caribbean. Then in 1997 Nina the ex-zoo elephant was freed in Tanzania. Both releases were complicated and costly but offered individuals infinitely richer lives.
Several of the sanctuaries supported by Born Free regularly return animals to the wild. Born Free has, for example, supported effective rehabilitation of rescued orphan elephants at Sri Lanka’s Elephant Transit Home since 2003. Since Born Free helped establish the Zambia Primate Project in 2004 over 500 rescued baboons and vervets have been rehabilitated.
Born Free’s Ethiopia Representative Stephen Brend is currently developing protocols to return rescued caracals and servals to the wild. Born Free decided to go for a ‘soft-release’ within the Ensessakotteh rescue centre, providing supplementary food and shelter if needed, allowing these small cats to return to the wild at their own pace.
Finding the balance between human support and encouraging wild behaviour is always a challenge. In Zambia, Douglas the hippo was rescued as an infant in 2013. At Chipembele, with the full support of his carers, he now ventures out to join the wild hippo ‘pod’, returning to the safety of his own pool when he wants to. Ex-captive dolphins Tom and Misha, rescued from a squalid swimming pool in Turkey, retained a relationship with the Born Free team to ready them for the open ocean. Daily, for months, the dolphins were asked to perform high-energy activities to build up fitness levels. Even when they left their sea-pen on their release day they waited for a carer to give a signal before swimming away. Over the years Born Free has learnt a lot about release. Each species requires its own protocol and the charity works with many experts. Sadly, not every animal rescued can be returned to the wild. Some would not survive on their own, and for many there are no appropriate environments available.
KQ & the Born Free Foundation to safeguard Africa’s wildlife by placing any unwanted change in the envelopes provided and handing it to a member of the cabin crew. The money received will make a huge difference and help us in our fight to ensure a future for Africa’s iconic wildlife.