Many endangered animals are poached for body parts to be used in traditional forms of medicine. There is a myth that rhino horn can be used to cure cancer. This is why many people in Asian countries want to buy rhino horn.
Poachers saw off a rhino's horn, leaving the animal to bleed to death.
A tough fight
In South African National Parks there is considerable work being done to protect the rhino populations. But with prices of rhino horn reaching as much as £35,000 per kilo, the authorities have a difficult battle to fight.
Not getting better
Recent figures released by the parks show that the situation is not improving. In the first ten months of 2011, 341 rhinos were killed by poachers while the total for all of 2010 was 333. This trend is obviously going in the wrong direction even though arrests have risen too. In 2010 the South African authorities arrested 165 poachers and 186 have already been arrested in 2011.
South Africa is an important target for criminal gangs trading in illegal ivory. It is home to the majority of the world's rhinos with close to 19,000 white rhinos and almost 2,000 of the endangered black rhinos. The ivory is smuggled to Asian countries such as Vietnam by criminal gangs.
On a happier note, the number of white rhinos has increased world-wide from under 100 in 1900 to about 20,000 in 2011.
(Source: earthtimes.org - published 03.11.11. Shortened and adapted)