(NBC NEWS) More than one rhino is being killed in South Africa by poachers each day -- with 2012 on target to be the worst year on record.
Some 159 rhinos have fallen victim to poachers since January, a death toll that looks set to surpass last year's grim figure of 449. In 2007, only 13 were killed in the country.
Demand comes from parts of China and Vietnam, where new wealth has combined with an age-old myth that rhino horns can be used to cure cancer.
Advertisement - story continues below
Rhino horns are now worth an estimated $25,000 per pound, making their natural weapon worth more than gold.