The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has relocated nineteen critically endangered Rhinoceroses via helicopter earlier this week.
The black rhinos were transported from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Limpopo – a journey of nearly 1,000 miles, to a special conservancy. Sedated and bound by their feet, the rhinos’ journey was part of the WWF’s Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, which strives to increase the sub-species’ population numbers.
Although the technique sounds inhumane, the press release from the WWF clarifies the airlift procedure.
“Previously rhinos were either transported by lorry over very difficult tracks, or airlifted in a net. 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,” said the WWF.
This is not the first time the WWF has used a helicopter to relocate a population of rhinos. The organization has successfully transported seven other black rhino groups to safety already
There are only about 4,000 Black rhinos in Africa today, which is a vast improvement from the 80’s when the population bottomed out.
The difference between black and white rhinos lies in their eating habits and mouth shape, not in their actual color. The black rhino is a browser, and the white rhino is a grazer.
Humans hunt both black and white rhinoceroses their horns, which are extremely valuable on the black market. The horns are made of keratin – the same protein found in hair and fingernails, and are also used as ornaments and medical treatments in some cultures. Both African species as well as the Sumatran Rhinoceros have two horns, while the Indian and Javan Rhinoceros have a single horn.
Watch the video of the “flying rhinos” here.