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Rhinos airlifted: Rescuers take drastic measures to save rhinos from extinction

Rhinos will be airlifted to safety in an attempt to prevent the extinction of the animal. In the first six months of 2014 in South Africa, 618 rhinos were killed, 400 of them in the Kruger National Park. It is a very serious situation that has prompted the authorities to take drastic measures. As explained in a Aug. 13 Discovery News report, several hundred rhinos will be moved from the park to other reserves in the country.

Kruger National Park lies on the border with Mozambique, a position that facilitates the entry of poachers in the past and had already prompted authorities to deploy troops on the ground. As explained by Edna Molewa, Environmental Affairs Minister of South Africa, this is an extreme measure.

"A decision has been made on this issue of translocation," Molewa said. "Relocations from the Kruger National Park and the creation of rhino strongholds could allow the total rhino population size of South Africa to continue to grow."

"We can move up to 500 animals," stated Sam Ferreira, an expert involved in the management of national parks in South Africa. According to the last census conducted in the park, in 2013, the population of rhinos was estimated to be between 8,400 and 9,600 individuals. On the continent there remain no more than 26,000, and according to experts, 80% of these are located in South Africa. These numbers make the rhinos protection more urgent than ever, and they think that the move is probably the best decision.

For this purpose, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, filmmakers who have worked with the National Geographic Society to assist other animals, have created a new initiative: Rhinos Without Borders. As of January 2015, the goal of Rhinos Without Borders will be to relocate hundreds of animals from South Africa to Botswana. Although airlifting a rhinoceros, which can weigh more than three tons, is not only an expensive task (in this case we speak of $45,000 per animal), it is also challenging from a logistical standpoint. However, the Jouberts say that relocating even only a hundred of South Africa's rhinos is an urgent and necessary strategy to sustain a species they believe will be lost within five to ten years if the illegal killing continues at the present rate.

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