Ray Dearlove released Australian Rhino Project

A retiree’s new career is devoted to creating a “seed bank” of endangered rhinos in Australia to save their species from extinction.

Former sales executive Ray Dearlove immigrated to Australia from South Africa 30 years ago, and has launched an effort to have 80 rhinos follow the same route to his adopted country.

A demand for rhino horn in Asia has led poachers to hunt the animals faster than they can reproduce. Deerlove’s solution is simple — move them out of the reach of the illegal hunters — creating a biological insurance policy for the species’ survival.

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His plan to airlift the animals is ambitious — it will cost $44,000 to fly each rhino 6,800 miles to Australia. He plans to reach his goal of bringing all 80 rhinos into the country within four years. Dearlove founded the Australian Rhino Project in 2013 to raise the money and deal with the complicated logistics of moving the giant animals across the Indian Ocean.

The first of six rhinos will leave in August after a two-month-long quarantine. They’ll spend another two months quarantined in their new country before being released to a safari park.

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Recent efforts to protect rhinos from extinction have included the UK’s Prince William pushing 40 companies to join a crackdown on transporting rhino horn, technology to dye the horns pink, and launching captive breeding programs.

Rhinos without Borders has moved roughly 100 of the animals from South Africa to the relative safety of neighboring Botswana in recent years, but Dearlove’s plan would put an entire ocean — not just a few miles — between the poachers and their quarry.

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“I thought Australia is one of the safest places on the planet to start this breeding herd,” Deerlove told ABC News. “With the eventual intention that they would be repatriated to Africa when those [poaching] issues are sorted out.”

(WATCH the video below) — Photo: Australian Rhino Project

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