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."


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


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