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Poachers Have Already Killed 558 Rhinos In South Africa This Year

Despite stepped-up enforcement aimed at saving one of Africa's most iconic species from poachers, 2014 is already on track to being the deadliest year on record for rhinos in South Africa.

As of July 10, 558 rhinos have been killed, and that number is increasing at an alarming rate. Worse yet, 62 of those rhino death occurred just in the last 10 days alone -- and peak poaching season hasn't even begun.

There are estimated to be around 25,000 rhinos left in the world, with 80 percent of those living in South Africa, but given the troubling trend of losses, they could be wiped out within a generation. If poaching continues at current rates through to December, 1,066 rhinos will be lost by year's end.

Here are past poaching statistic for South Africa's rhinos:

2010: 333

2011: 448

2012: 668

2013: 1004

2014: 558 Sadly, nearly all of these deaths -- and the fate of the species -- have hinged upon the illegal trade of rhino horn, fueled by demand on the black markets of Asia. Traditionally, horns are said to have medicinal qualities and can fetch up to $100,000 per kilogram. In reality, however, they are composed primarily of keratin, just like human fingernails.

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