It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a ..Rhino?!

Rhino airlift

Airlift via Black Rhino Rescue Project, photo:Michael Raimondo

Now that South Africa has established its going to move hundreds of rhinos to new locations, logistically HOW will they do it?

Translocating  one-ton animals is tricky. But the most dramatic, and arguably the safest method to date is by air.

Photographer Emma Gatland joined the team from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for a rhino capture and relocation project in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.

“There aren’t many people who get to witness a rhino lift,” she says. “It’s a new procedure, which is gentle on the rhino as it shortens the time the animal is kept drugged. The rhinos are airlifted using an old Vietnam Huey, which in itself is an adventure. They are lifted roughly 500 – 1000 meters into the air suspended by their ankles.”

Airlift 2

The rhino is sedated.

Airlift 4

Then secured..

AIrlift 5

And moved!

Of course any location, whether by truck or plane, is risky due to the anesthesia and general stress but airlifting is the best method for rhinos thus far.

According to Jacques Flamand, of WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project ,

“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.”

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