When selecting rhinos to relocate to Botswana, Map looks for young females, young bulls, or females with big calves. These individuals will make the biggest contribution to Botswana’s new breeding populations.
A vet and a team from RCB and our partners fly around in a helicopter looking for the ideal rhinos, waits for the perfect moment and then darts them with an immobilising drug. We use skilled helicopter pilots and experienced vets, because we want our rhinos to be brought down as swiftly and safely as possible.
We never dart a female with a calf younger than 18 months, due to the risk of separation in the bush, which would likely prove fatal for one so young. But an older calf – of about three years old – can survive on its own and will usually be pushed away by the mother when she has an infant anyway, especially if it’s a male. So this is the perfect time to dart the family.
We keep the rhinos calm and cool, and carefully load them into a waiting crate. Then we haul the crate onto a truck and transport the lot – normally four or five rhinos in total – to a quarantine facility.
The rhinos have to spend 30 days in a boma in their own country before they can begin their journey to Botswana. This allows them time to recover from the anaesthetic, be cleansed of any parasites and put on weight. Sadly, even in the bomas the rhinos are not safe. Poachers may target them before they leave, so they are guarded around the clock.
All being well, a month later the rhinos are fit and ready for the next leg of their journey. A new, safe home in Botswana awaits…