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Project: Help save rhinos with retired race horses

South Africa's war on rhino poachers has been given a boost by the use of retired race horses.

Two White Rhinoceros lay in the shade in Krugar National Park on July 8, 2013 in Lower Sabie, South Africa.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

There are obvious advantages to this tactic:

  • There is a height advantage
  • More terrain can be covered on horseback before getting tired
  • Horses can go where vehicles cannot
  • They're silent as compared to vehicles
  • Ex-racehorses are given a new usefulness

In Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa, project ex-racehorse is still in the experimental stages, but thus far no rhino has been poached on the reserve since the new practice was put into effect.

Implementation of the idea came from champion racehorse trainer Lisa Harris who brought the horses from Zimbabwe over a year ago. She stated:

"I just saw a gap in the market here. I thought we could introduce ex-racehorses that some of them don't have other uses for an anti-poaching campaign and it seems to be working.
We find that the poachers are very aware that they're here. And, you know, they're a little bit scared of them, because racehorses have a reputation as being these big fearful things. And so, you know, they are quite nervous about them."

Given that the number of rhinos killed last year set a new national record with nearly 950 successful poachings, something new had to be tried. Rangers weren't sure how the horses would work out since they were in a new environment and around animals they had never seen before. However, they have performed "remarkably well," and, hopefully, will continue to help stave off would-be poachers.

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