Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Horns of a dilemma: retiree to fly 80 South African rhinos to Australia

Former sales executive who emigrated to Australia 30 years ago is hatching a daring plan in an attempt to save the species from poachers

Agence France-Presse
Saturday 14 May 201603.26 BST Last modified on Monday 16 May 201609.09 BST

A retired South African sales executive who emigrated to Australia 30 years ago is hatching a daring plan to airlift 80 rhinos to his adopted country in an attempt to save the species from poachers.

Flying each animal on the 11,000-kilometre journey will cost about $A60,500, but Ray Dearlove believes the expense and risk is essential as poaching deaths have soared in recent years.

The rhinos will be relocated to a safari park in Australia, which is being kept secret for security reasons, where they will become a “seed bank” to breed future generations.

“Our grand plan is to move 80 over a four-year period. We think that will provide the nucleus of a good breeding herd,” Dearlove said while visiting South Africa to organise for the first batch to be flown out.

The Australian Rhino Project, which the 68-year-old founded in 2013, hopes to take six rhinos to their new home before the end of the year.

Funding – from private and corporate sources – is nearly in place, and the first rhinos have been selected from animals kept on private reserves in South Africa.

 “We have got to get this first one right because it’s a big task, it’s expensive, it’s complex,” Dearlove said.

When they are settled successfully in Australia, “then we hopefully will go up in gear,” he added.

South Africa is home to about 20,000 rhinos, approximately 80% of the worldwide population.

But they are being killed for their horns, which are in high demand in China and Vietnam where they are prized for their purported medicinal purposes.

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