Dec 31 - 2012 was a deadly year for South Africa's rhinos with the rate of poaching increasing yet again. Simon Hanna reports.
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2012 was a deadly year for Africa's Rhino population.
By mid-December, 633 Rhino's had been poached in South Africa - the country home to most of the continent's Rhinos.
Julian Rademeyer, journalist and author of 'Killing for Profit', says rhino killings have been rising year after year.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER AND AUTHOR, JULIAN RADEMEYER:
"I think there's increasing demand we have seen more than 600 rhinos poached so far this year. Last year it was 448, year before it was 333. We have seen a steady increase year on year for the last four years. It's.. in many ways demand seems to be growing exponentially."
Rhino horn has been valued for centuries in Chinese medicine, where it was used to treat a range of maladies including rheumatism, gout and even possession by devils.
Demand has recently been growing in Vietnam, where a newly affluent class has been buying it to treat ailments ranging from hangovers to cancer.
Poachers are said to enter South Africa from neighbouring Mozambique, from where observers say the horn is often smuggled out through the same routes used to bring illegal drugs from Southeast Asia into Africa.
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