Scientists hang rhinos upside down from a helicopter: Here’s why

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Every year a set of seemingly bizarre and nonsensical scientific experiments win the Schnobel Prize. Awarded by Science Humor magazine. An annual report on eccentric research. This award goes to a project that “first makes people laugh and then makes people think.”

A recent study. Suspended rhinoceros. Flipping an ankle upside down in a helicopter is like a shoe-in for a judge. Schnobel Prize for Transportation 2021 . However, while the dangling rhinoceros gives stunningly ridiculous pictures, there is serious business behind the awards and the research.

The rhinoceros is in trouble. There are five kinds of . Rhinoceros, and all that are on the brink of extinction. The three-ton white rhino is not endangered, but its numbers are still estimated at 20,000. Among them, it has been left in the wild. In the study is the black rhino, which weighs 1.5 tons and has an estimated population. A total of 5,000 .

To protect the rhino population, conservationists have used decapitation (to make rhinos undesirable to poachers), relocation (moving rhinos, including upside down in a helicopter) and even resurrection (eggs and semen). Making embryos and even DNA from dead people).

Because rhinos live in a protected fenced area, they are monitored and theoretically protected from rhino horn poaching, which is a major threat, so they move rhinos. But this animal Is colonizing new territories, repopulating vacant areas or mixing genes between areas.

So conservationists need to reach out or help with a helicopter to place the rhinoceros in a new location. Before the Schnobel Prize-winning study, however, it wasn’t entirely clear whether this inverted transport was really safe for the rhinos involved.

Hanging herbivores.

Capturing and moving large mammals can be dangerous and destructive to the welfare of the animals involved. Large African mammals such as elephants, giraffes, and rhinos are physiologically sensitive. The whole process of capturing and moving can cause psychological and physiological stress. If such animals are given too much tranquilizer or placed in the wrong position under sedation, they can die.

Historically, wildlife migration This method has been informal and experimental, and the successful method has been spread by word of mouth. This ad hoc approach is increasingly being replaced by formal scientific studies that validate the supposed wisdom or offer new innovations.

So it matters. Animal Health. For welfare reasons alone, the procedures used in capturing and relocating large animals are as safe and nonstop as possible.

For years, African rhinos have been moved by hanging them upside down, suspended from a helicopter, blindfolded and calm. For rhinos that can really do it, since helicopter transport can mean shorter travel times and also allows rhinos to be caught and travel short distances from areas inaccessible by road. Might be preferable.

However, no one has proven that hanging upside down is bad for the rhinoceros. Sure, the rhinoceros looks normal when it wakes up at its final destination, but is everything really okay after that?

This is where science comes into play. It may seem odd to intentionally hang 12 black rhinos upside down for 10 minutes just to observe physiology. But without research, no one knows if this is a safe way to transport endangered animals.

Nobel Prize NS Ig Nobel Prize winning study. We compared the respiratory and metabolic effects of rhinos when they were hanging from their ankles and when the same animal was lying down. The researchers found that the breathing efficiency of the upside-down rhinoceros was slightly higher than that of a rhinoceros positioned sideways while at rest. Thus, the process proved to be as good as traditional transportation methods.

Moving the Rhino.

I was involved in a number of white rhino capture and relocation manipulations performed in South Africa for my own research: blood and saliva samples were collected to assess the physiological stress associated with capture.

The team I worked with also used a helicopter ” Throw the rhino with a tranquilizer from the air. The rhino was then awakened as soon as possible, blindfolded, stunned, and placed in a crate for several hours of truck ride. Road transport is preferable because keeping rhinos calm while transporting rhinos over long distances is impractical and impractical.

Getting close to such an impressive beast is not difficult, and the experience of capture is somewhat fascinating, but my motive was science: collecting data on the effects of capture and, finally, wildlife. Informing and improving protection.

Nevertheless, I always felt sad that I had to go through such an unnatural process in the first place for these sensitive and gentle giants. But unfortunately, we have no choice.

To effectively save an endangered species, they cannot simply be left alone. They must be managed, which often means moving them from poaching to safer locations or moving them to new areas that seek to expand their population and diversify the local inbreeding population. .

Our hope is that such animals will survive capture and relocation procedures and have the strongest and healthiest immune and reproductive systems at the time of their release.

It takes science to do that. And if science involves hanging rhinos upside down or other seemingly strange and interesting research, do it. Disappearing wildlife is no laughing matter, even if it gives us the odd opportunity to laugh while we learn.