University of Pretoria wildlife researcher Wouter van Hoven found himself in a tricky situation in 2001 amid the Angola wilderness. A Russian Ilyushin II-76 plane had just landed with precious cargo: two giant crates holding elephants that had been airlifted from South Africa.
The problem? The flatbed trucks van Hoven had requested for the crates to be directly lowered onto had not yet arrived. When they finally did arrive an hour later, van Hoven then had to figure out how to lift the crates onto them.
The workers ignored his request for a forklift, choosing instead to hoist the crates with hooks — even though van Hoven warned them the crates would fall apart.
Their destination was the Kissama National Park, just 43 miles south of the Angolan capital of Luanda. Once teeming with wildlife, the park’s entire animal population was wiped out by the country’s brutal civil war, which lasted nearly three decades and killed half a million people.
In the 1990s, Angolan officials frustrated by the decimation reached out to van Hoven for help in repopulating the park with many of the same types of animals that once roamed there.