The International Union for Conservation of Nature says South Africa alone is projected to lose close to 1000 rhinos by the end of this year.
Addressing the Symposium of Contemporary Conservation Practice at Howick in the KwaZulu-Natal, Midlands, the union's Dr Richard Emslie says Vietnam has been the world's leading rhino horn consumer since 2005.
"It’s not exactly clear how much of the horn going into Vietnam ends up staying in Vietnam, because there are increasing reports of Chinese buyers coming into Vietnam, buying horns and taking them across the border. In some cases they have been very crafty in terms of getting the rhino horn carved into balls which are then made into bracelets. So people walk across the border with these bracelets and nobody knows what it is. It could be anything."
Emslie says while the rhino poaching crisis is consistently increasing in countries such as South Africa, Malawi and Zimbabwe, they have shown a decline since it peaked in 2008.
"Since 2008 and this is equivalent to an average annual escalation of 37.5% roughly. With that kind of escalation, we are rapidly approaching tipping point where deaths may exceed births."
Meanwhile, two rhino that sustained severe injuries from poachers are being treated by veterinarians at a centre outside Hoedspruit in Limpopo.