In a world similar to ours, a mad scientist is bent on preventing the ascendance of one certain individual over the rest of the people inhabiting the northern part of the continental America, also called U.N.A. (the Unity of Northern America). The U.N.A. hold presidential elections similar to those of the earth USA and are currently in the final phase of their elections.

Our scientist has tried everything from social media, over press publications over appealing to the common sense of people, but he failed nonetheless. In a last resort he gathers the funds to transport 30'000 members of the species of the Rhinocerotidae to the southern border of the U.N.A. hoping to be able to disrupt the election process and stop people from committing, what he deems to be, a mistake of global consequence.

The scientist gathers all the Rhinocerotidae in the eastern part of Europe and wants to transport them all as silent/stealthy as possible to the southern border of the U.N.A. using Soviet Era transport planes.

How would he have to go about it and how many planes would he require?

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    $\begingroup$ "The scientist gathers all the Rhinocerotidae in the eastern part of Europe" not sure there are 30,000 rhinos in the "Eastern part of Europe"... $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 10:08
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    $\begingroup$ there aren't enough rhinos in the world.... $\endgroup$
    – Charon
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 10:48
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    $\begingroup$ Somehow, I think that you couldn't fly any Soviet-era transport planes to the US border "unnoitced". $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 11:08
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    $\begingroup$ I love that this question is hard science. It's so beautifully absurd that it has to be given full attention to detail. $\endgroup$
    – user20787
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 15:10
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    $\begingroup$ Also, I have been to eastern Europe and I can confirm that Rhinos were not among the many attractions of that part of the world. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 21:41

2 Answers 2


500 planes

If we consider the large Antonov, we have planes that weight 285 tons, and can carry 355 tons of load. They have dimensions for the load of $44\times6\times4.4\mbox{ m}^3$

Now a few facts about the rhinos. They can be up to $4\times2\times2\mbox{ m}^3$, and weight 1 to 3 tons depending on the species.

So buy building a deck within your cargo area, you'd be able to place about 60 rhinos within each plane. You might get to more, if you pack them more tightly. The weight of the rhino alone would amount to 60-180 tons. Which is well below the maximum weight. You'd still need to add the structure, pack, food, etc. But we would probably stay within the limit.

But on the base of 60, you'd get $30000/60 = 500$ planes.

But do note, that summing up the number of rhinos of the various species, we barely come to 30,000 rhinos in the whole world!

It's going to require some planing for your stealthy operation.

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    $\begingroup$ On the article I cite, for one of the species, they didn't write the exact number, or I missed it. And those are only referring to wild animals. So by maybe stretching the edges, we might get close enough to 30,000. Like 28,000. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 10:30
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    $\begingroup$ @ddriver Indeed. I still think that it's easier to build another Antonov, than gathering all the rhino population of the world! $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 11:45
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    $\begingroup$ You mean building 498 Antonov An-225's, completing the partially built one, and using the sole completed aircraft. Training about 500 pilots and the air crew to fly them. Perhaps it might be easier to breed all the rihinoceroses needed for this operation as well. Heavens! A mere snap of fingers. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 11:58
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    $\begingroup$ Considering that the An-255s are most comparable to something like the Airbus A380; of which just under 200 have been built since deliveries began in 2007... with a unit price of $430m... nothing about this operation can ever be unnoticed. Pretty sure everyone is going to notice the enormous new Antonov factory, and fact someone has managed to steal all of the world's rhinos. $\endgroup$
    – user20787
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ @a4android It's a strange day when comments basically come down to questions of whether it's easier to breed rhinos or to breed airplanes. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 21:30

Use ships.

While 500 planes would be hard to gather and hard to hide, the small number of ships would be much less noticeable. Even relatively small ships would hold 5,000-10,000 20ft containers, each easily capable of holding a rhino and a substantial amount of food. The container acts as a built in cage. People are used to seeing large numbers of containers being moved around, so having the ships unload onto trucks which then drop them at the desired location shouldn't even raise an eyebrow, especially if rumours of a 'big construction project' are spread. You might need to forge some import documents, and even bribe a few inspectors who want to open the containers, but that's definitely easier than trying to hide 500 transport planes.

Ships do of course take longer than aircraft, but in this world the US elections take forever - easily enough time to float a few mono-horned behemoths across the Atlantic.

The best thing is that when you want the rhinos to actually do their thing (whatever that is) you just remote trigger a hidden door in each container and the rhinos wander out. Spectacular.


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