Flight of the Black Rhinos

Endangered animals are airlifted to safe haven in South Africa.

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Flight of the Black Rhinos
Look out below! A black rhino is relocated in South Africa as part of World Wildlife Foundation's Black Rhino Range Expansion Project. (Photo: Courtesy of www.greenrenaissance.co.za)

For endangered Black Rhinos, being airlifted upside-down by helicopter is the only way to fly.  The Black Rhino Range Expansion Project has just transferred its seventh rhino population (19 animals) from heavily poached areas in South Africa to a secret haven in Limpopo Province. Amazingly, the 1500 km trip was a breeze compared to previous methods of animal transfer.

According to The Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, earlier capture techniques were risky and extremely uncomfortable for the animals.

“Previously rhinos were either transported by lorry over very difficult tracks, or airlifted in a net,” explained Dr. Jacques Flamand of the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, in a press release. “This new procedure is gentler on the darted rhino because it shortens the time it has to be kept asleep with drugs, the respiration is not as compromised as it can be in a net, and it avoids the need for travel in a crate over terrible tracks.”

Using helicopters also allows the team to reach rhinos that are stuck in difficult terrain. The entire translocation takes about ten minutes and the animals are asleep through the entire journey and suffer no lasting ill effects.

Vietnamese and South African officials had a summit in September to discuss the fight against rhino poaching, which is largely driven by the medical myth that rhino horns can fight cancer.  By October the last Javan rhino in Vietnam had been killed by poachers.