On Monday, the fifth annual World Rhino Day, rhinoceros poaching is at crisis levels and getting worse every year.
All five species of rhinos are threatened by poaching, and three of them are critically endangered. Above, a photo from a 1909 National Geographic magazine article about where Theodore Roosevelt, who'd just left the White House, was likely to hunt in Africa shows a rhino felled by hunters in Kenya.
A black market, especially in Vietnam, for rhino horn, valued for supposed healing properties and as a symbol of status, has fueled the killing of rhinos for years. (Read "Rhino Wars" in National Geographic magazine.)
South Africa, home to 83 percent of the roughly 26,000 rhinos left in Africa, sees the most intense poaching on the continent, with most of it happening in Kruger National Park. In 2013, a record 1,004 rhinos were killed in South Africa, a hundredfold increase since 2006, when just 10 were killed. Already this year, the country has seen 769 rhinos killed for their horns.
"Our country's proud conservation record, established more than 50 years ago when we brought the white rhino back from the brink of extinction, is being threatened," Barbara Thomson, South Africa's deputy minister of environmental affairs, said in a September 22 speech near Kruger National Park.
Populations of Africa's black rhino and white rhino species have shown steady increases between 1991 and 2007, but experts fear that intense poaching will undo those gains.
World Rhino Day, founded in 2010 by WWF-South Africa, has grown into an "international success," with events worldwide bringing attention the plight of the rare animals, according to its website.
—By Brad Scriber, Photo Editing by Nicole Werbeck
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