In an astonishing sight, 19 endangered black rhinos were lifted by their ankles over the South African landscape in an effort to save them from dangerous poachers.
The World Wildlife Fund’s Black Rhino Expansion Project has moved 120 of the animals so far to one of seven participating partners’ land to protect them from being hunted. Each of the project partners has agreed to keeping a security system to prevent poachers from attacking the rhinos — of which there are only 1,1915 left in South Africa and about 4,880 left across the African continent.
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The relatively new technique is actually gentler on the rhino than any other transportation mode previously attempted. The two-ton rhino is put to sleep for no more than a 10-minute helicopter ride to a safe location. A doctor then awaits the rhino’s arrival and is there to wake up the animal after its short journey.
Poachers killed 274 rhinos by September 2011 in South Africa alone, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The hunters are especially interested in the animals’ horns, which is a prized commodity in Asian medicine where it is ground into a powder and used to treat various illnesses.