In all likelihood, you have probably never seen a rhino of any age snuggled up against the bare torso of a child like this one. Rhino´s aren´t exactly known for being affectionate to humans.
Typically, it would be a dog or cat that would engage a human child so affectionately. Yet that is the case for this rhino. As heartwarming as the photograph appears, there is a very sad story behind it. The extant ungulate is a survivor of a poaching incident that claimed the life of its mother.
Sadly, life for rhinos is difficult. Even at this time, there global rhino population is on track for extinction despite the best conservation efforts. This is because there is a global demand for the ungulate’s horn. People in certain cultures ascribe great healing powers to drinks made from ground up rhino horn.
The demand is so high that poachers can fetch a handsome price for rhino horns. Some estimates are that the horns are literally worth their weight in an equivalent measure of gold. With the price of gold hovering around $1,200 an ounce and the average rhino horn weighing 3.5 lbs., this puts a price tag of $67,000 on each horn.
The irony is that the rhino horns have no such therapeutic healing power. Despite that, more rhinos are perishing annually than are being born. The poaching has been so severe that only one male white rhino currently lives. It also takes the protection of an armed guard contingent two score in size to keep it safe from poachers.