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Saturday, September 1, 2012

the dangling black rhino - .. !!


Rhino on a rope: Blindfolded and sedated beast – hanging on air – appears to be so cruel and inhumane !!

Photo courtesy : www.dailymail.co.uk
Leave alone the sight, we do not get to see Rhinos themselves, other than in zoos.  Rhinoceros abbreviated as rhino, is a group of five extant species of knee-less, odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae. Two of these species are native to Africa and three to southern Asia.  They are characterized by its large size,  one tonne or more in weight; an herbivorous diet; a thick protective skin, relatively small brains, and a large horn. Rhinoceros are killed by humans for their horns, which are bought and sold on the black market, and which are used by some cultures for ornamental or (pseudo-scientific) medicinal purposes. The horns are made of keratin, the same type of protein that makes up hair and fingernails.

The black rhinoceros or hook-lipped rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), is a species of rhinoceros, native to the eastern and central areas of Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Angola. Although the rhino was referred to as black, it is actually more of a grey/brown/white color in appearance.  The other rhino is white rhino – misleading as both the species are not really distinguishable by colour.  The species overall is classified as critically endangered, and one subspecies, the Western Black Rhinoceros, was declared extinct by theIUCN in 2011.

The photo at the start, is part of a helicopter rescue mission to save the giant creature from certain death at the hands of poachers in South Africa's Eastern Cape.  The project is a collaboration between conservation group WWF and local agencies in the African nation, desperate to stop the mass slaughter of the giant mammals.  In South Africa alone, 341 black rhinos were killed last year by poachers who hunt them for their horns.

Daily Mail reports that  WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project has been running in South Africa for eight years, and seen 120 animals moved.  The operation is one of many conservation attempts to curb the death of the animals, which are classified as 'critically endangered'.  The increase in illegal hunting has been fuelled by a demand for horn in the Far East, where it is ground up and used in traditional medicines.  Earlier this year experts said the substance was being sold on the black market for around £35,000 a kilogram - making it more valuable by weight than gold.  A world-first scheme launched in June saw a DNA database of rhino horns set up to crack criminal networks that kill and torture the beasts.

There are thought to be fewer than 2,000 left and their status was recently upgraded to 'critically endangered'.  The dizzying ride to safety may seem cruel and uncomfortable for the giant beasts, but rescue workers insist its the most humane way to relocate the rhinos.  The helicopter trip dramatically reduces the time the rhinos need to be sedated for, meaning there's far less risk of medical complications.  Thus they dangle miles above the earth in an amazing flight, many of which saved a herd of them from certain death.  After a 15-mile flight across the roughest terrain, the rhinos are loaded into trucks for the rest of their 1,000 mile journey to the safe pastures of South Africa's Limpopo Province.

You can wonder the hanging cargo as the mammoth rhino would measure four metres long, and weigh up to 2,000 kilos.   Earlier, the translocation of this was done by first darting the animal with special narcotics, usually from a helicopter.  The helicopter would chase the rhino to a chosen area so that it falls asleep in a place accessible to the big game transporting truck which will deposit a rhino crate right in front of its nose. Once the darted rhino has fallen asleep it is blindfolded to protect its eyes from dust and sun as the narcotic allows it to sleep without closing its eyes.   After the narcotics shot, the rhino would stir and team of men would push it into a crate, lift to removal truck by a crane and driven off to its new home, which could take long hours and hence higher medication to keep under control.   It had associated problems of feeding the animal enroute and getting them used to drinking from a container.   

There is also the challenge of managing inbreeding leading to a lesser quality. If rhinos are well protected and their numbers increase, it is possible that the population reaches  higher capacity causing insufficient food and water sources – but they are far fetched as the immediate need is to save them from extinction.  

So, an entirely newer  concept of transport which should enthuse Marine enthusiasts more……..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
3rd April 2012.
PS : majorly reproduced from an impressive article in www.dailymail.co.uk.

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