What’s the Best Way to Move a Rhino?

Conservation groups say it’s best to hang rhinos upside down when they are being relocated by helicopter or crane.
Conservation groups say it’s best to hang rhinos upside down when they are being relocated by helicopter or crane.

If you've ever looked up in the sky and seen a flying rhino, it was probably hanging upside down -- or it should have been. It might sound like the stuff of Disney, but the truth is that airlifting black rhinos is a crucial part of conservation, as the tough-skinned beasts have become critically endangered.

Conservation groups say that when a rhino needs to be moved a long distance and can't be transported by truck, the best method is tying them by their feet and hanging them from a crane or helicopter. The other option is placing the rhino on its side on a stretcher -- like a wounded soldier -- but the former method is not only quicker and easier, it's also better for the rhino's health. A biomarker measurement revealed that rhinos hung upside down had higher blood oxygen levels than those transported on a stretcher.

While black rhinos once numbered more than 100,000 in Africa, poaching has taken a huge toll, and moving them to safety is a last-gasp effort to keep the species alive.

Researching rhinos:

  • While there are white rhinos and black rhinos in Africa, they actually both have gray skin.

  • Rhinos might be big and strong, but they are also fast, running at speeds of up to 40 mph (64.3 km/h).

  • Humans and rhinos share at least one trait: Their horns are made of the same stuff that makes our hair and fingernails, keratin.

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    • Conservation groups say it’s best to hang rhinos upside down when they are being relocated by helicopter or crane.
      Conservation groups say it’s best to hang rhinos upside down when they are being relocated by helicopter or crane.