Kenya's biggest elephant relocation project involves transporting them more than 215 miles from the overcrowded Shimba Hills National Reserve to the less populated Tsavo East National Park.
Kenya Wildlife Service rangers were just starting the transport today when a truck broke while carrying the first elephant, a 22-year-old bull. The rangers had planned to start moving entire elephant families on Saturday; now that is uncertain.
Earlier, Patrick Omondi, head of the wildlife service's elephant programs, said rangers working on the government-sponsored $3.2 million effort had enough trucks to move 14 elephants at a time.
Young elephants live in families led by senior females, while adult males spend most of their time alone. Moving families together is important for the animals' well-being, Omondi said.
Shimba Hills has 600 elephants, three times what it can comfortably handle, resulting in the animals moving into populated area and destroying crops and injuring people. Tsavo East National Park has 10,397 elephants, down from a peak of 25,268 in 1972.
Tsavo East suffered a heavy loss of elephants because of poaching during the 1980s and early 1990s. Poaching has since subsided, helped by a 1989 global ban on the ivory trade that has seen prices drop.