Talk about getting a lift—a tranquilized black rhinoceros is seen being transported by helicopter to a waiting vehicle in South Africa's Eastern Cape (map) last week.
Deemed critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, black rhinos have been decimated by poachers, who take the animals' horns for their purported medicinal value. (Related: "More Rhinos Hacked Apart as Horn Demand Spikes.")
The helicopter trip, which lasted less than ten minutes, was part of a new relocation technique for moving rhinos from poaching-prone areas and releasing them into more secure reserves. Airlifting in particular allows darted rhinos to be quickly removed from otherwise inaccessible terrain.
"It is just an amazing sight," project leader Jacques Flamand said of the airborne beasts. "Each one is spectacular and one wonders at it," he said via email.
"It is also so simple a concept that we are all kicking ourselves that we didn't do it long ago."
The rhino airlifts were part of WWF's Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, which has moved nearly 120 of the animals to date. In the latest effort, 19 rhinos were airlifted out of their original habitat and driven to a new location in Limpopo Province (map), about 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) away.