At one of the highest levels of the rhino horn trade chain, are the leaders of Asian run syndicates that monopolize the flow of horn from South Africa to Asian markets. These individuals are the "kingpins" of the trade, often using different people to front as bogus hunters in rhino trophy hunts.
For a clearer picture of the process and the far-reaching implications of poaching and illegal wildlife trade, see the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)'s graphic: "The Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade."
In addition to funding the sex trade, drug cartels and terrorist groups, poaching activity puts wildlife officials and their families in mortal danger as well. There have been at least 1,000 park rangers killed in 35 different countries over the last decade alone.
Every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed.
Each day, two to three rhino are slaughtered.
At least one tiger a day is butchered.
Of course there's no way to tell how many people die as a result from the poaching and trade, directly or indirectly through funding of the other lucrative crime it supports.
With far-reaching consequences to human and animal life, as well as the environment, we as individuals need to demand our governments bring an end to the organizations behind this tragedy. Once our animals go extinct, it won't be long until it is our turn.