The slaughter of both white and black rhinos has soared in six years. In 2007, 13 rhinos were poached, but last year that number rose to 1,004.
Criminal gangs, and even terror groups like Al Qaeda, are making millions of pounds a year by hacking the animals to death for their horns.
Many of the horns are ground into powder and used as traditional medicine in the Far East to treat ailments such as hangovers.
Will Travers, chief executive of the Born Free Foundation, warned last night: “There are now just 20,000 white rhino and 5,000 black rhino left in the wild. If poaching carries on at the rate it is now for six more years it will devastate the numbers.
“There will probably be no free-living rhinos as the remaining numbers will be fenced off in military-style compounds which are alarmed and heavily guarded by armed patrols.”]