Rhino research study wins Ig Nobel prize

A study by Cornell University and Namibia’s environment ministry found that black rhinos prefer to be transported flying through the air while hanging upside down.

14 September 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT







WINDHOEK

A research study conducted in Namibia, aimed at observing the effects of placing rhinos in an upside-down position, has won an Ig Nobel prize.

Science humour magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) awarded the study an Ig Nobel, which is a spin-off on the famed Nobel Prize, for transportation.

It was one of 10 research studies awarded last week “for achievements that first make people laugh and then make them think”.

The study was conducted by a group of researchers from Cornell University and Namibia’s environment ministry.

The team suspended 12 tranquilised black rhinos by their feet from a crane and measured their physical responses.

BBC Africa reported that the rhinos were in an upside-down position for 10 minutes and although this practice has been done before in conservation work in Africa, it was mainly to transport rhinos between areas of fragmented habitat.

This research was the first time it investigated how the tranquilised rhino’s heart and lung function coped with the upside-down flying.

It found that the rhinos coped exceptionally well and the researchers also established that the animals did better in this position as opposed to lying chest down, or on their side.

Celebrating the unusual

The awards were held virtually this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with real Nobel Prize winners dishing out the prizes.

Winners reportedly walked away with a trophy that they had to assemble themselves from a PDF printout and a cash prize of a counterfeit 10 trillion-dollar Zimbabwean banknote.

AIR said the prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative and spur people’s interest in science, medicine and technology.

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