Sleeping Black Rhinos Are Hung from Helicopters in Wild Journey to a New Home (Photos)

© Michael Raimondo/WWF Black rhino being transported by helicopter to an awaiting land vehicle. The helicopter trip lasts less than 10 minutes and enables a darted rhino to be removed from difficult and dangerous terrain. The sleeping animals suffer no ill effect.

The World Wildlife Foundation isn't ready to let black rhinos face extinction without a fight. To protect the critically endangered animals, the WWF has pulled out all the stops and turned some heads, using a helicopter to carry 19 sleeping rhinos by their ankles to a secure new home.

© Michael Raimondo/WWF

While flying rhinos around attached to helicopters may seem inhumane or just inconsiderate, it actually makes for a much easier trip, explained project leader Dr Jacques Flamand:

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.

© Michael Raimondo/WWF

For rhinos in Africa, poaching is an existential threat. In the last ten months, 341 animals were killed, more than in any previous year.

The black rhinos were transported from South Africa's Eastern Cape to the Limpopo province. A newly created range there is part of the WWF's Black Rhino Range Expansion project. The idea is to ensure the long term survival of the animals by expanding their range in areas where they will be monitored, and hopefully protected from poachers.

© Michael Raimondo/WWFDr Jacques Flamand of WWF’s Black Rhino Range Expansion Project has just administered the antidote to wake up a black rhino which has just been released on to a new home after an epic 1500 kilometre journey.

Follow Alex on Twitter.

Tags: Africa | Animals | Animal Welfare | World Wildlife Fund

Best of TreeHugger 2014

WHAT'S HOT ON FACEBOOK