The Sad, Beautiful, Surreal Sight of an Endangered Rhino Being Airlifted to Safety

It's a bleak landscape for the mighty black rhinoceros. The WWF announced this week that 353 of the endangered mammals, whose horn is incorrectly thought to have cancer-curing powers, have been poached this year alone, already exceeding the number poached in 2010. Current estimates put the total population of the species at 4,240.

These amazing photos were taken by the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, which seeks to relocate rhinos to less-populated parts of South Africa. They move the animals via helicopter airlift, a new, more humane transportation technique which is much faster, allowing the rhinos to remain anesthetized for a shorter period of time. The effect is breathtaking and odd — something straight out of a Terry Gilliam movie. [Photos: GreenRenaissance.co.za]

The Sad, Beautiful, Surreal Sight of an Endangered Rhino Being Airlifted to Safety

[Photo: GreenRenaissance.co.za]

The Sad, Beautiful, Surreal Sight of an Endangered Rhino Being Airlifted to Safety

[Photo: GreenRenaissance.co.za]

The Sad, Beautiful, Surreal Sight of an Endangered Rhino Being Airlifted to Safety

[Photo: GreenRenaissance.co.za]

The Sad, Beautiful, Surreal Sight of an Endangered Rhino Being Airlifted to Safety

[Photo: GreenRenaissance.co.za]

The Sad, Beautiful, Surreal Sight of an Endangered Rhino Being Airlifted to Safety

[Photo: GreenRenaissance.co.za]

The Sad, Beautiful, Surreal Sight of an Endangered Rhino Being Airlifted to Safety

[Photo: GreenRenaissance.co.za]

The Sad, Beautiful, Surreal Sight of an Endangered Rhino Being Airlifted to Safety

[Photo: GreenRenaissance.co.za]