A plan has been put forth buy a group of prominent ecologists to transplant lions and elephants to the Great Plains of North America in order to save some species from extinction in Africa, where protection is spotty and habitats are vanishing. The argument is that the relocated animals would help restore the biodiversity in North America to a condition closer to what it was before humans entered the continent. Most modern African species, of course, never lived on the American prairie, but some of their biological cousins like mastodons, camels and saber-toothed cats, roamed for more than 1 million years alongside antelope and herds of bison until Ice Age glaciers retreated and humans arrived with spears and an appetite for Flinstonian steaks.
Myself, I find the idea of introducing elephants a bit wacky. Elephants, metaphorical or real, tend to be destructive creatures. Rather than pachyderms, I'd rather see them introduce some Siberian tigers. I am aware that these giants meat-crunching felines might devour the occasional hitchhiker. But who can resist the charm of these giant cats. And hiking amidst deadly predators would heighten the back-to-nature experience during that next hike through the Rockies.