Rhinos Can Fly – WWF Black Rhino Rescue Mission (Picture Gallery)

Photo: Michael Raimondo via Green Renaissance/Facebook

A herd of rhinos was relocated to its new home by a helicopter during a WWF rescue operation which saved them from death. Dangling from cords tied to their ankles, 19 black rhinos were transported out of the South African hills inaccessible by road in the country’s Eastern Cape.

The 1,400-kilo rhinos spent 20 minutes in the air and were then driven a further 1,000 miles to fresh breeding ground in the northern Limpopo province, away from poachers.

Photo: Michael Raimondo via Green Renaissance/Facebook

Michael Raimondo, who captured the spectacular scenes, said: “The main aim was to ensure the rhinos were moved in a way that would not distress them, so they were darted and put to sleep before being lifted.”

Photo: Michael Raimondo via Green Renaissance/Facebook

Mr Raimondo, director of environmental body Green Renaissance, was among a team of 25 who helped with the painstaking process.

Photo: Michael Raimondo via Green Renaissance/Facebook

He added: “We couldn’t get trucks to them as they were in a very remote area, so military choppers were needed to bring them out.

“The helicopters had been tried and tested during exercises so we knew they could carry incredibly heavy things.”

Photo: Michael Raimondo via Green Renaissance/Facebook

The mammoth cargo included males that were nearly four meters long, and weighed up to 2,000 kilos.

Photo: Michael Raimondo via Green Renaissance/Facebook

Black rhinos are under threat across Africa, where poachers in safari parks and private reserves kill and maim the beasts for their horns.

Photo: Michael Raimondo via Green Renaissance/Facebook

New figures published today by the WWF revealed that more of the vulnerable animals have been slaughtered in the first 10 months of this year than during the whole of 2010.

Photo: Michael Raimondo via Green Renaissance/Facebook

Official statistics show that that 341 rhinos have been lost to poaching this year in South Africa, compared to 333 last year.

Photo: Michael Raimondo via Green Renaissance/Facebook

This week’s herd was the seventh to be transferred to new bushland by WWF, which is attempting to increase the population.

Photo: Michael Raimondo via Green Renaissance/Facebook

The precise locations were not revealed in an effort to prevent criminals from targeting the animals.

Photo: Michael Raimondo via Green Renaissance/Facebook

Source via The Sun