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South Africa's poaching epidemic sees rise in wounded rhinos, and vets race to treat them

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    A mural painted on a suburban wall in Johannesburg, South Africa calls for the halt to rhino poaching, Friday, Dec. 18, 2013 in a bid to save the species from extinction due to killings for the rhinos horn. Veterinarians are racing to learn more about rhino anatomy so they can swiftly treat survivors of attacks by poachers whose arsenal has included assault rifles, high-caliber weapons that can fell a rhino with a single shot and drug-tipped darts that knock it out. The big five game animals referred to in the mural as the "big four" in the future, are lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhino. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell) (The Associated Press)

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    This photo taken Jan 12 2013 at an undisclosed conservancy in South Africa shows an orphaned baby rhino in a pen. The 2-month-old calf was hacked with axes and machetes by poachers and left for dead when she tried to return to her mother who was being dehorned. Veterinarians are racing to learn more about rhino anatomy so they can swiftly treat survivors of attacks by poachers whose arsenal has included assault rifles, high-caliber weapons that can fell a rhino with a single shot and drug-tipped darts that knock it out. (AP Photo) SOUTH AFRICA OUT (The Associated Press)

A high-value target survives two attempts on her life. After recovering from gunshot wounds, she is secretly moved to an undisclosed location in hopes that the killers won't track her down again.

This isn't a Hollywood thriller about a hunted witness in a police protection program. It is the tale of Phila, one of a growing number of rhinos that survive horrific injuries during attempts by poachers to hack off their horns.

In a new push, veterinarians are racing to learn more about rhino anatomy so they can swiftly treat survivors of attacks by poachers.

The South African government says a record 668 rhinos were killed in the country in 2012. Demand is growing in Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia where rhino horn is falsely believed to have medical benefits.