“Currently one rhinoceros is killed by poachers every 16 hours in South Africa,” writes National Geographic reporter Peter Gwin.
Over the last three years, more than a thousand of the animals have been slaughtered. In response, police gunned down 22 poachers and arrested more than 200 last year. At the bloody heart of this conflict is the rhino’s horn, a prized ingredient in traditional Asian medicines. Though black market prices vary widely, as of last fall dealers in Vietnam quoted prices ranging from $33 to $133 a gram, which at the top end is double the price of gold and can exceed the price of cocaine.
Today, the Overseas Press Club of America announced that this story, “Rhino Wars,” earned Mr. Gwin and Reportage photographer Brent Stirton the Whitman Bassow award for environmental reporting. Read the full story on the National Geographic Web site and see more of Mr. Stirton’s photos here.
CAPTION: TUGELA PRIVATE GAME RESERVE, COLENSO, NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA - NOVEMBER 9: A female rhino (left) who 4 months ago survived a brutal dehorning by poachers who used a chainsaw to remove her horns and a large section of bone in this area of her skull in Natal, South Africa on November 9, 2010. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage by Getty Images)