TODAY   |  March 07, 2013

‘Rhino Wars’ team fights to save endangered rhinos

Rhinoceroses are losing their fight for survival as they are slaughtered for their valuable horns. A new Animal Planet show, “Battleground: Rhino Wars,” follows former and current members of US Special Forces who are defending endangered rhinos. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back now. 7:45 with a new weapon in the fight to save the rhinos ruscerousrhinocer ous. a team of experts on a new show featured on " animal planet " called "battleground rhino wars." here's nbc kerry sanders .

>> reporter: the rhinos serious is losing its fight for survival survival. 686 lost to poachers last year the prize rhino horns highly believed to hold ma dismal and magical powers . enter the newest team in the rhino wars, four current members in the u.s. special forces using the art of warfare to catch the poachers before they kill more of these endangered mac nif sent animals.

>> put your hands to the side.

>> i've been in 55 countries around the globe. a lot of middle east .

>> reporter: team leader and former navy seal, code name "saw."

>> what we're looking at is nothing short of the complete extinction of the rhinoceros.

>> reporter: oz is a former green beret.

>> her calve and the rhino had been butchered.

>> killed for their horns.

>> reporter: you're a big guy , special forces , you're tough, how did that impact your mission?

>> i think bigger guys have bigger hearts. it resonated in me. it really strengthened my resolve to get out there and get something done.

>> reporter: most haunting, says the team, not the dead. but the sound of a survivor, a calf looking for milk from its just killed mother.

>> the poaching is almost unstoppable because of the value of these horns on the black market . this, guys, are worth and estimated half million dollars.

>> reporter: with a record breaking murder rate of more than 100 game wardens killed in south africa last year, the fight needed to change.

>> that changed everything.

>> reporter: now, they use u.s. military training, just as they do in a war zone , they develop an intelligence network and have deployed with the latest high-tech gear. for a change, the poachers were on the run.

>> we start off chasing poachers, then we found out we need to actually save the rhino .

>> reporter: rhino wars, the battle for a species survival. for today, kerry sanders , nbc news.

>> we want to tell you battleground rhino wars premieres tonight at 9:00 8:00 central time on animal planet .