Rhinos are in danger of extinction and poaching for their horns is their biggest threat. Although these animals might seem like grand, intimidating creatures – when faced with humans motivated by greed, they stand little chance.

The demand for rhino horn is largely driven by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). According to TCM, rhino horn is a remedy for a number of ailments, including fatigue and even cancer. In reality, however, rhino horns are made of keratin, the same protein that makes up our nails and hair ... yet, this trade continues to thrive.

Tragically, because of this high demand, rhino horns are currently are worth more than gold on the black market – a fact that is driving these animals into oblivion. A number of rhino species have already been declared extinct from the wild as a result of this trade, making the need to stand up for these animals extremely pressing.

Photographer Lauren St. John has made it her mission to get people to recognize this urgency. Her stunning, but also hauntingly somber photos perfectly capture the personality of this species, serving as a reminder of what we stand to lose if we don’t act soon.

It is estimated that three rhinos lose their lives to poachers every day.

At the start of the 20th century, the rhino population was estimated to be around 500,000. By 2013, their numbers had fallen to 29,000.

Not only are their horns believed to have medicinal properties, but they are also used as status symbols and party drugs.

On whole, the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to generate anywhere from 5 and 20 billion dollars, annually. It is the fourth most lucrative illegal trade it the world.

Adding to the rhino’s plight are human settlement, agricultural production, and logging, rhinos are suffering from severe habitat loss.

Just like humans, rhinos are capable of experiencing emotions and have been known to seek out affection

Though the numbers are not as great as the number of rhinos lost to poaching, political conflict is another contributor to their rapidly decreasing population.

Don’t let these gorgeous photos be among the last to capture rhinos in their natural habitat. Help spread the word of the dangers facing rhinos by sharing this post. To learn more about how you can stand up for rhinos and help make a difference, visit Save the Rhino and check out the articles below:

Lead image source: Lauren St. John/The Guardian