Editor's note: some of these images contain graphic content.
Across southern Africa, a war is raging over an increasingly precious commodity: rhinoceros horn. A single kilogram of the horn can fetch up to $100,000 on the global black market, a price largely driven by a belief in some parts of Asia that the appendage is imbued with mystical healing properties. The growing demand for rhino horn has fueled a massive rhino slaughter: Poachers, some of them armed with automatic weapons and bullet-proof vests, killed 1,000 animals last year. Meanwhile, conservationists and wildlife officials have taken up arms to stop the bloodshed, patrolling game reserves under cover of darkness. Writing for Foreign Policy, journalist Scott Johnson chronicled the tremendous efforts to save South Africa's rhinos in his dispatch, "Where the Wild Things Are." Conservation efforts have tried a variety of solutions to save the dwindling rhino population, from contaminating rino horns with herbicide to diminish their value, to relocating entire populations, to a controversial proposal to legalize and regulate the trade in horns. All these developments represent a shifting and high-stakes battle over one of the world's increasingly rare and sought after commodities.
Above, a rhino at the Pilanesberg Game Reserve in Pilanesberg, South Africa, on Oct. 23, 2013. Rhinos were tagged and DNA collected during the park's anti-rhino poaching initiative.
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