Scholastic News Online

Scholastic News Online is a free resource with breaking news and highlights from the print magazine.

Available for grades 1-6, Scholastic News magazine brings high-interest current events and nonfiction to millions of classrooms each week.

Additionally, our subscribers have FREE access to Scholastic News Interactive, an exclusive online learning tool featuring digital editions, videos, interactive features, differentiated articles, and much more.

A sleeping black rhino flies to a new home over dangerous terrain. (WWF / Green Renaissance)

Rhino Rescue

Scientists airlift some rare rhinos to safety in Africa

By Natalie Smith | null null , null
<br />A veterinarian wakes up one of the sleeping rhinos. (WWF / Green Renaissance) <br /><br />The rhinos were moved from South Africa's Eastern Cape to Limpopo. (Jim McMahon)

A veterinarian wakes up one of the sleeping rhinos. (WWF / Green Renaissance)

The rhinos were moved from South Africa's Eastern Cape to Limpopo. (Jim McMahon)

It's been a tough time for rhinoceroses lately. Last week, the International Union for Conservation declared the western black rhino extinct in the wild. It was last seen in western Africa in 2006. Now, conservationists are going to extremes to make sure other rhinos don't meet the same fate.

Earlier this month, 19 south-central black rhinos in South Africa were airlifted by helicopter. They were dangled upside down by their ankles and taken to a nearby vehicle. The rhinos were then driven to an area nearly 1,000 miles away. Although this unusual scene might seem cruel, conservationists say it's the gentlest and quickest way to transport the animals. The "flying rhinos" were taken to a new home that conservationists say will keep the animals safe from hunters.

Though it's illegal to hunt most rhinos, many are still killed for their horns. The horns can sell for as much as $30,000 each. They are ground into powder and used in traditional Asian medicines. Some people believe that the horns are effective in treating pain, fevers, and even cancer. No medical evidence has proved these claims.

Black rhino populations began declining rapidly in the second half of the 1900s because of poaching (or illegal hunting). Habitat loss also threatens the animals. Much of their habitat was wiped out when people started building farms on the grasslands the animals once roamed. Until the 1960s, about 65,000 black rhinos lived throughout most of Africa. Today, fewer than 5,000 are left—most of them in zoos and wildlife reserves.

South Africa has the largest population of rhinos in the world. Poaching is an especially big problem in that country. So far this year, poachers have killed more than 340 rhinos there. Since 2003, the Black Rhino Expansion Project has been helping south-central black rhinos in South Africa. The group partners with landowners who set aside areas where rhinos can live and breed safely away from hunters. They relocate rhinos to these areas.

So far, the group has successfully relocated about 120 rhinos. Leaders of the expansion project say the south-central black rhinos have seen a boost in numbers. Conservationists hope that, with continued support, these rhinos can escape the unfortunate outcome of the western black rhino.

Privacy Policy




Here's something interesting from