It’s a tricky, expensive and often very dangerous affair to safely relocate a rhino. But conservationists in South Africa have come up with a slightly awkward and highly effective way of moving the animals in order to protect them from poaching threats.
“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.”
Megan Lategan from Wildlife Act describes the operation in more detail.
“Game Capture and relocation is done for the benefit of the species and to ensure the strength of future bloodlines. It is a complex procedure and is only done when absolutely necessary. Thankfully the techniques used for rhino capture and relocation have significantly improved in recent years, gone are the days of large drug doses and corralling a dazed animal into a convenient location.
As strange as it may seem airlifts are the best way to move these massive creatures, it allows them to be captured from any location; the rhino spends less time under anaesthetic and ultimately endures less stress from the procedure. The significant improvement in this area has led to a marked increase in the success of relocating white rhino.”
Paul Steyn is a widely-published travel journalist from South Africa. Having guided throughout Africa for some years, he went on to edit a prominent travel magazine, and now writes about and photographs unique experiences around the world. Follow him on twitter.