White rhinos fly to safety

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Nairobi — Five of the last remaining northern white rhinos in the wild will be airlifted from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Kenya in coming weeks. This is a desperate move to save the population from extinction.

In 2003, about 30 rhinos lived in Garamba National Park. Since then, heavily-armed poaching gangs have slaughtered around 20 of these animals. Kes Hillman Smith of the Rhino Project at International Rhino Foundation (IRF) now believes there are fewer than 10 animals left in the park.

Sometime before the rainy season begins in February, the rhinos will be flown by military transport plane or helicopter to a private reserve in central Kenya.

Outside of the Garamba National Park, there are also 10 northern white rhinos in captivity. However, it is very difficult to breed them in captivity.

Trade in rhino horn has been banned internationally since 1977, but it is worth more than $1200 (USD) per kilogram on the black market.