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After half-century absence, Black Rhinos fly home to Serengeti

Five critically endangered Eastern Black Rhinos were flown on cargo planes to Serengeti National Reserve in their native Tanzania, nearly half a century after their forebears were evacuated to save them from poachers.

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The case carrying one of five East African black rhinos is unloaded from a South African cargo plane in Northern Tanzania's Serengeti National park Friday. Five rhinos were flown from South Africa to Tanzania on Friday to boost a population that has been decimated by years of poaching. Tanzania's rhino population is currently between 60 and 70.

Khalfan Said/AP

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As is often the case at an African VIP function, the honored guests were a little late.

But finally, the huge Hercules cargo airplane, 90 minutes behind schedule, lumbered to a halt in a cloud of dust at the end of the dirt airstrip in Tanzania's Serengeti National Reserve.

On board were five critically endangered Eastern Black Rhinos, being returned to their native Tanzania nearly half a century after their ancestors were evacuated to save them from poachers.

The reason for the delay? One of the six originally slated for Friday’s repatriation was found to have a suspected eye infection, and was left behind in South Africa on vet’s orders.

That did not dampen spirits among the 500-strong crowd who gathered under a fierce sun in the middle of the Serengeti National Reserve to watch what many call "the most ambitious wildlife relocation in 50 years.”

Brass bands and plume headdresses

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