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The rare beasts are being airlifted to a 34,000-hectare nature reserve as conservationists battle to save the species

Floating upside down just above the treetops, this rare black rhino has been blindfolded just in case it wakes after being darted and drugged.

Its feet tied together, this ungainly mode of transport could be the two-ton beast’s only hope of survival after being hunted to almost extinction along the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

BarcroftFlying rhinoHigh up: A rhino is hoisted high into the air by its ankles in Eastern Cape
This was one of 12 that were moved to a new home at a 34,000 hectares reserve in Kwa Zulu Natal, also in South Africa.

It is part of the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, a partnership between conservation groups including World Wildlife Fund and Eastern Cape Parks that was set up in 2003.

The aim is to increase the population of the critically endangered black rhino by expanding its territory.

Over the last decade, nine new black rhino populations have been been created in South Africa, with more than 140 rhinos relocated.

BarcroftFlying rhinoLifted: High above the tree canopy, the rhino is on its way to a new home
The rhinos awake from their trip feeling groggy and confused – but at least they are alive and they were soon back on their feet and exploring their new home.

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