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Posted Sun Aug 21 2011: from Guardian:
Rhinos threatened with extinction to meet demand for bogus cancer cure
We are at the frontline of a conflict that is threatening to turn some of South Africa's most beautiful nature reserves, a draw for tourists around the world, into lawless battlegrounds - and drive a magnificent animal towards the brink of extinction. Some 265 rhinos have been poached so far this year, according to government figures, an average of more than one per day. This puts 2011 on course to surpass last year's record death toll of 333. In 2007, it was just 13. Why? There is no mystery about it. Experts agree the carnage results from a false belief, widespread in the far east, that rhino horn can cure cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. There is now soaring demand from the newly moneyed consumers of China and Vietnam. Poaching gangs here are increasingly sophisticated, using helicopters, silent tranquillisers, body armour, night vision equipment and mercenaries experienced in rhino tracking. Once a rhino's horn has been hacked off, they leave the animal to bleed to death. The horn is then smuggled out of the country by an international syndicate. The price of rhino horn is 35,000 per kilogram, making it more expensive than gold, according to the International Rhino Foundation.
[Read more stories about: hunting to extinction, stupid humans]

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