Close up of rhino eye

Photo: N.J. Wight

A sanctuary for rhinos

The gentle eye and wrinkled, leathery skin of a rhino is seen at an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya.

Sept. 22 marks World Rhino Day, an international event focused on raising awareness of the ever-worsening rhinoceros poaching crisis. As rhino populations dwindle, the street value for their horns remains on a steady climb and currently stands at about $60,000 a kilogram in China and Vietnam.

Despite many efforts to curb it — including South Africa's unusual plan of airlifting endangered rhinos via helicopter to safer lands — poaching has reached epidemic proportions. In South Africa alone, more than 380 of these animals have been poached in 2012 so far, with 100 of those individuals slain over the course of just two months.

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Rhino mother and baby sitting in the grass

Photo: N.J. Wight

Rhino horn is not medicine

A black rhino mother rests in the tall grass with her offspring as a bird perches on her back inside the Lewa Conservancy in central Kenya. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is a 55,000-acre wildlife sanctuary located 270 miles north of Nairobi.

Formed in 1995 with the purpose of conserving endangered rhinos, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is home to more than 50 of the 300 white rhinos and 74 of the 600 black rhinos currently living in Kenya.

For more incredible photos of these remarkable animals, be sure to check out A celebration of World Rhino Day: Through a photographer's lens.

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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.