By Oliver Joy
Using military-grade helicopters, night-vision equipment and guns fitted with stealth silencers, organized crime syndicates are taking rhino poaching to a whole new level and conservation parks are struggling to keep up.
Sabi Sand -- South Africa's oldest private game reserve -- is now spending half of its annual maintenance budget on security to protect the endangered rhino.
Sabi Sand conservationist Andrew Parker told CNN that defense costs could become "unaffordable."
"There's no question we're fighting a counter insurgency war here," he said. "As much as we increase the risk, all it will do is it will drive up the price of the horns, it will raise the stakes, the poachers will become more organized and better prepared to fight."
It's a problem across South Africa, but despite investment and innovation, unmanned drones, sniffer dogs and increased security have all failed to halt the rising tide of rhino slaughters, as poachers hunt the herbivores for their horns.
Decimated by illegal poaching, the endangered rhino has increasingly come under attack in recent years. In South Africa alone, the government is estimating 1,000 killings for 2013, while last year there were 668 slaughters.
But poaching rhino horn is a lucrative industry with much of the loot sold on to the affluent classes in Asia, particularly China and Vietnam, where it is believed by some that the horns can cure cancer and boost virility. More....