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Mixed Freight Services transport and security screening divisions recently came together for a very unique off-site project in the handling and movement of an endangered animal flying securely out of Lydd international airport.
‘The collection of captive animals in the 21st century can only ever be justified by the true conservation aims of returning, wherever possible, animals born in captivity to their native habitats in the wild.’
Damian Aspinall


The endangered animal in question is the now late Eastern Black Rhinoceros named Zambezi, who had been born and raised at the Aspinall Foundation’s Port Lympne Reserve. Perhaps the most ironic and saddening aspect of this loss is the fact that it occurred during the flight intended to return him back into the wild.
For the last few generations, the Black Rhinoceros has been at high risk of extinction due to poaching and loss of land; the rhinoceros horn has been dominant in the illegal wildlife trade, and is estimated to surpass the value of ‘gold, diamonds, or cocaine’, largely owing to its use as traditional medicine in parts of East Asia.
The loss of this particular young male is a huge blow to the critically endangered species, the population of which remains hovering around a mere 5,000. It is therefore crucial that these animals are monitored in a natural environment in an effort to bring the population out of the threat of extinction. The Aspinall foundation is a world leading conservation organisation dedicated to just that. Chairman Damian Aspinall states that “It is my firm belief that these animals do not belong in captivity, our long-term goal is to see all zoos phased out or, if they’re not, to see them truly doing conservation work”. Their Port Lympne Reserve is ethically different to the conventional zoo. Being a “breeding sanctuary”, the wildlife park ultimately aims to preserve endangered animals by ‘return(ing) animals born at Port Lympne to protected areas of their natural habitat’. 

Mr. Aspinall has partnered with the Grumeti fund in this initiative backed by the Tanzanian government in efforts to repopulate a protected ecosystem in Serengeti with the Eastern Black Rhino. The Organisation has so far translocated 8 Black Rhinos to reserves in Africa, who have birthed around 15 calves in the last 24 years; an impressive boost for the declining population.

Now, anything that flies is subject to aviation security screening, be it a person, a piece of cargo, or an animal. Enter the “mixed” in Mixed Freight Services. When approached by the Aspinall Foundation to assist with the transportation of Zambezi, we were thrilled to be part of the conscious efforts.
There are vital steps involved in approving and transporting this special type of ‘cargo’, beyond simple screening and securing. Through our direct channels of communication, we were able to liaise directly with the Civil Aviation Authority. With over thirty years’ experience in specialised transport movements for the aviation industry, Mixed Freight Services planned and executed an offsite specific protocol approved by the CAA, which ensured the safety and integrity of the cargo without compromising it.
Consequently, we were able to ensure this 1,254kg Rhinoceros was safe and ready for its flight; sadly, however, for reasons yet unknown, Zambezi did not survive to see Serengeti as he passed away in transit.
As we mourn the loss of Zambezi, we must also recognize the invaluable efforts and intentions of the Aspinall foundation and the step forward in returning these wild animals back to their natural homes.  
Mixed Freight Services prides itself on its pragmatic approach to all situations; we embrace and welcome unique projects of this kind and look forward to assisting with any different, unique, potentially peculiar situations wherever our expertise is required.