By Kristen Skovira
BOULDER, Colo. - Melinda MacInnis started out as an everyday American traveler, but a chance meeting with a conservationist in Swaziland changed her perspective and her purpose.
"He taught me all about the eco-disaster that's taking place right now in Africa, specifically with the poaching of rhinos," says MacInnis. "Of all the five species of rhinos, they make up the most endangered large animal group on the planet."
The former English teacher started researching extinction, poaching issues and international crime rings. MacInnis' mission to expose illegal poaching has taken her around the globe, traveling from Swaziland to Thailand and all points in between.
Rhino horn is often used medicinally, ground-up and ingested. It's now the most-expensive illegal substance on the planet.
"[It's been used] a lot like aspirin. You would use it for anything that was considered hot: a headache, rash, or fever," says MacInnis.
The activist has been documenting her travels for nearly three years and is now in post-production on a film she calls "The Price." Her mission has even attracted the attention of National Geographic and received the publication's Traveler Of The Year Award for 2014. Video.