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NBC News investigates rhino poaching in South Africa

Tom Milliken of TRAFFIC describes the rhino horn trafficking trail from Africa to Asia

NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams takes an in-depth look at the rhino horn trade. As Tom Milliken of TRAFFIC explains, rhinos are easy targets for poachers and their horn is easily concealed and smuggled across borders. A record 448 rhinos were poached in South Africa last year, despite increased law enforcement efforts. More than half of South Africa’s rhino deaths occurred in world-famous Kruger National Park.

The recent upsurge in rhino poaching is tied to increased demand for rhino horn in Asia, particularly Vietnam, where it carries prestige as a luxury item and a purported cancer cure.

Rhino protection

WWF and TRAFFIC—the wildlife trade monitoring network of WWF and IUCN—are providing assistance to rangers, criminal investigators, prosecutors, and customs authorities in both Africa and Asia. Additionally, TRAFFIC has facilitated visits between South African and Vietnamese government officials to discuss deepening cooperation. A bilateral treaty to ramp up law enforcement collaboration between South Africa and Vietnam was negotiated in September 2011 but still remains unsigned.

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The future for rhinos and other species is on the line. Please make your most urgent and generous donation to WWF to support our global conservation efforts, including our rhino range expansion project and critical anti-poaching campaigns.

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South Africa has been the epicenter of rhino poaching, but rhinos in other African and Asian range countries are also being targeted by poachers. In October, WWF announced the extinction of rhinos in Vietnam. The last Javan rhino in the country was killed by poachers and its horn removed. In Nepal, however, strong conservation and law enforcement efforts ensured that no rhinos were lost to poaching in 2011.

Learn More
Record Rhino Poaching in South Africa
Rhino Relocation
Fighting Wildlife Trade

Watch the Full Video: NBC News investigates rhinos under assault from poachers

Original Air Date: February 22, 2012