Due to habitat loss and the threat of poaching, there are thought to be less than 170 Western Derby Eland individuals remaining in the wild, restricted to one national park in Senegal.
Knowsley Safari’s heritage is closely linked with the Western Derby Eland owing to Dr. Gray of the British museum, London, who in the 1840’s provided the first scientific description of this iconic West African species during one of the 13th Earl of Derby’s expeditions. Today Knowsley Safari is owned by the 19th Earl of Derby who continues his families’ passion for conservation by supporting the development of a Species Strategic Conservation Plan by the Western Derby Eland conservation programme which is working to rebuild numbers of one of the world’s largest antelope species for release back into their natural territories. Over the past decade, the programme has established a semi-captive population of 80 individuals from a founding population of 6, owing to the team who have worked relentlessly hard to care for the animals whilst monitoring the genetics of the herds and discovering more about the ecology of the species in their natural habitat. Through doing this, communities can be advised on how they can co-exist with this critically endangered species to ensure the survival of their national heritage and natural ecosystems.
Leah, a keeper from Knowsley Safari has visited Senegal in 2016 to help with this project. Read more about her work here.