The Best Way To Transport A Rhino? Upside Down, Tied to a Helicopter

Animals often have to be relocated by conservation organizations. Sometimes it's to move them to safety, farther away from poachers, and sometimes it's to introduce new genes into a population. NatGeo photographer Emma Gatland joined a group from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for a white rhino relocation effort in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.

While the inverted airlift might look uncomfortable, it minimizes the time the animal is kept under anesthetic and the 5-point suspension system actually minimizes anatomical stress. Using a net, for example, would induce breathing difficulties.

The rhinos were lifted some 500-1000 meters high using an old Vietnam Huey, which Gatland says "is itself an adventure." The operation is conducted by a crew of three vets, three pilots, 5 staff on the ground, and a game capture manager. "What stood out," she writes, "is how precise this operation is."

The Best Way To Transport A Rhino? Upside Down, Tied to a Helicopter

The Best Way To Transport A Rhino? Upside Down, Tied to a Helicopter

The Best Way To Transport A Rhino? Upside Down, Tied to a Helicopter

In this last photo, the rhino is released, safe and sound, onto the new reserve.

The Best Way To Transport A Rhino? Upside Down, Tied to a Helicopter

All photos copyright Em Gatland Photography, used with permission. Check out more of her work on her facebook page and on twitter.