Powdered rhino horn is fetching £31,000 a kilo – the same price as cocaine.
Poachers, who slaughtered 330 rhino in South Africa alone last year, have cashed in on rocketing demand in Asia, where horn is sold as a miracle cancer cure.
Mark Jones, of Care for the Wild International, said killings had trebled and were now threatening conservation programmes.
He said: “Reports of horns sawn off come in almost daily. Poachers and rangers are in shoot-outs, with deaths on both sides. It’s a war.