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Flight of the Rhino: Natural World
E10 of 10
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The extraordinary sight of a heavily drugged black rhino dangling by its ankles hundreds of feet in the air from a helicopter is inescapably comical. But conservationists aren’t doing this for fun. Black rhinos face extinction. Their population has declined by 70 per cent during the past six years, due to poachers slaughtering the animals to sell their horns to the Far East, where they are, nonsensically, believed to have healing properties.
It’s a savage trade. There are heartbreaking shots of a small calf snuffling around his dead mother after poachers killed his family. But the helicopter airlifts, where rhinos are moved from a reserve in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal to a secret, hopefully safe, location could stop the breed from vanishing. The animals are tranquillised before a 20-minute, 40-mile flight.
In South Africa last year, 668 rhinos were killed for their horns and at this rate there could be none left in the wild in 15 years. In Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, helicopters are being used to carry critically endangered black rhinos to a new site. This film follows 13 of the animals as they make the extraordinary journey and examines the work of rangers struggling to keep their rhinos safe. Narrated by Sean Bean.
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