<p>Poachers killed this black rhinocerous for its horn with high-caliber bullets at a water hole in South Africa’s Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. They entered the park illegally, likely from a nearby village, and are thought to have used a silenced hunting rifle. Black rhinos number only about 5,000 today.</p>

Poachers killed this black rhinocerous for its horn with high-caliber bullets at a water hole in South Africa’s Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. They entered the park illegally, likely from a nearby village, and are thought to have used a silenced hunting rifle. Black rhinos number only about 5,000 today.

Photograph by Brent Stirton, Getty, Nat Geo Image Collection

Heart-Wrenching Photos Show Rhinos Fighting to Survive

Photographer Brent Stirton captures the relentless poaching of rhinos and the on-going battle to protect these animals.

As of 2016, there were 29,500 rhinos left in the world, 70 percent of which were living in South Africa. Photographer Brent Stirton, who is himself South African, has won international acclaim for his coverage of one of the biggest threats to the remaining rhino population: the illegal trade of their valuable horns. In 2015 rhinos were killed by poachers at a rate of nearly four a day. In recognition of World Rhino Day, we bring you a selection of Stirton's most compelling images, photographed on assignment for National Geographic magazine.

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