KAZIRANGA, India – A massive creature with a dinosaur-like face emerges out of the early morning mist and tall grass of northeast India. The endangered Indian rhinoceros has survived for millions of years despite a curse literally on its head.
Kaziranga refuge is one of the world's best-protected wildlife reserves. But even here, poachers are laying siege, attempting to sheer off the rhinos' horns. At least 18 fell in and around the park in 2012, compared to 10 in all of India in 2011.
The accelerating slaughter occurs wherever rhinos are found. More than 630 fell to poachers last year in South Africa alone. Driving the killings are soaring prices that China's growing rich are willing to pay: up to $65,000 per kilogram ($30,000 per pound) for purported medicine.