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India's 'Fortress Kaziranga' under siege as poachers slaughter rhinos for Chinese medicine

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    In this Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 photo, a rhinoceros runs inside the Kaziranga National Park, a wildlife reserve that provides refuge to more than 2,200 endangered Indian one-horned rhinoceros, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. Even in this well protected reserve, where rangers follow shoot-to-kill orders, poachers are laying siege to “Fortress Kaziranga,” attempting to sheer off the animals' horns to supply a surge in demand for purported medicine in China that's pricier than gold. A number of guards have been killed along with 108 poachers since 1985 while 507 rhino have perished by gunfire, electrocution or spiked pits set by the poachers, according to the park. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath) (The Associated Press)

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    In this Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 photo, tourists watch a one-horned rhinoceros inside the Kaziranga National Park, a wildlife reserve that provides refuge to more than 2,200 endangered Indian one-horned rhinoceros, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. Even in this well protected reserve, where rangers follow shoot-to-kill orders, poachers are laying siege to “Fortress Kaziranga,” attempting to sheer off the animals' horns to supply a surge in demand for purported medicine in China that's pricier than gold. A number of guards have been killed along with 108 poachers since 1985 while 507 rhino have perished by gunfire, electrocution or spiked pits set by the poachers, according to the park. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath) (The Associated Press)

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    In this Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 photo, one-horned rhinoceroses graze inside the Kaziranga National Park, a wildlife reserve that provides refuge to more than 2,200 endangered Indian one-horned rhinoceros, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. Even in this well protected reserve, where rangers follow shoot-to-kill orders, poachers are laying siege to “Fortress Kaziranga,” attempting to sheer off the animals' horns to supply a surge in demand for purported medicine in China that's pricier than gold. A number of guards have been killed along with 108 poachers since 1985 while 507 rhino have perished by gunfire, electrocution or spiked pits set by the poachers, according to the park. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath) (The Associated Press)

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    In this Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 photo, a one-horned rhinoceros stands inside the Kaziranga National Park, a wildlife reserve that provides refuge to more than 2,200 endangered Indian one-horned rhinoceros, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. Even in this well protected reserve, where rangers follow shoot-to-kill orders, poachers are laying siege to “Fortress Kaziranga,” attempting to sheer off the animals' horns to supply a surge in demand for purported medicine in China that's pricier than gold. A number of guards have been killed along with 108 poachers since 1985 while 507 rhino have perished by gunfire, electrocution or spiked pits set by the poachers, according to the park. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath) (The Associated Press)

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    In this Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 photo, forest guards patrol inside the Kaziranga National Park, a wildlife reserve that provides refuge to more than 2,200 endangered Indian one-horned rhinoceros, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. Even in this well protected reserve, where rangers follow shoot-to-kill orders, poachers are laying siege to “Fortress Kaziranga,” attempting to sheer off the animals' horns to supply a surge in demand for purported medicine in China that's pricier than gold. A number of guards have been killed along with 108 poachers since 1985 while 507 rhino have perished by gunfire, electrocution or spiked pits set by the poachers, according to the park. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath) (The Associated Press)

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.