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These gentle and intelligent creatures have inhabited the Earth for around 60 million years and are often believed to be the cause of our belief in unicorns. It all began in 1298, when explorer, Marco Polo, said.

There are wild elephants in the country, and numerous unicorns, which are very nearly as big. They have hair like that of a buffalo, feet like those of an elephant, and a horn in the middle of the forehead, which is black and very thick.

Currently, all five rhino species are perilously close to extinction after an astounding drop in numbers in the 1970s, which accounted for the disappearance of half the world's rhino population. Today, less than 15% of the 1970 population remains, an estimated 10,000 worldwide. While the Javan and Sumatran rhinos are near extinction, the Indian rhinos may be on their way back from the brink.

Of the two African species, the white rhino has rebounded from near extinction and now has fairly good numbers, especially in South Africa. (Actually, the white rhino is not really white. Its name was wrongly translated from the Dutch word wijde, which means 'wide'.)

The black rhino, which can weigh up to 3,900 pounds, has not done so well. In 1970, an estimated 65,000 black rhinos could be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa but around 90% were killed in the same decade and now there are less than 2,500 left in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, and Tanzania.

While the rate of decline has slowed somewhat, these animals are still in serious danger. The value of rhino horn has always made it enormously profitable to poach rhinos and sell them on the black market. For example, in 1990, the two horns from a single black rhino brought as much as $50,000. Poaching for rhino horn is simply too profitable for many subsistence farmers and herders to resist.

Somehow, we have to help them resist that temptation. Now is the time to take action. See what you could do here.

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