The SAWC BatHawk has been very busy patrolling various properties around and within the Kruger National Park.
Another project currently keeping the BatHawk busy, has been the 'notchings' of Rhino in areas that have been hit hard by poaching.
BatHawk Pilot, Bruce, heads out at first light in order to find a rhino fitting the criteria, and then calls in his twin brother chopper pilot, Jerry.
Jerry, who is also a seasoned wildlife pilot (seen in the pic below taken by Bruce in the Bathawk), then has the trying task of flying the vet closely enough to the rhino in order to dart it safely.
As the tranquilizer only takes a few minutes to set in, the ground crew stand-by and wait until it is safe to approach the rhino.
The team then work quietly and calmly to take DNA samples (tail hair, blood and ear skin).
They also microchip the animals horns which will help with gathering information about the rhinos movements and also act as a deterrent to poachers, the animals greatest predator.
Finally the 'Notchings' are made in the ears, which will be used for future identification purposes.
Once the vet feels that the rhino is ready to be woken, he/she will administer the antidote, which can surprisingly bring the big beast back up to its feet in seconds!
This is a unique and exciting experience, as everyone involved gets up close and personal with an animal that we only ever view from a distance.
More importantly the funding by the various groups who take part in the 'Notchings' go towards further Anti-poaching efforts in the area.
So everyone wins!
If you are interested in a Rhino Notching experience please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Photograph taken by Bruce MacDonald.