2479 rhino horns burnt down by Assam government


GUWAHATI, Sept 22: In order to dispel the myth of medicinal value attached to rhino horns as well as to send a strong message against poaching and smuggling of rhino horns, Assam Government today burnt  down 2479 rhino horns deposited in government treasuries across state in a public playground at Bokakhat near Kaziranga National Park.


Assam CM, Himanta Biswa Sarma holds a rhino horn meant for burning today.


Assam Chief Minister, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma set the horns in fire in the ceremony  organised as per Vedic rituals today. The horns were burnt in six pyres in presence of senior ministers, top forest officials  and a host on green warriors in the state.

All these rhino horns were kept in treasuries of Assam. Some of those were seized from poachers / wildlife parts smugglers and the majority of those were collected from rhinos which have died in protected areas naturally.

Before deciding to destroy these horns, the Assam government had examined these rhino horns in phases engaging experts to verify their purity. The Assam Cabinet has already approved the move as per the relevant Section 39 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

It is the horn for which the rhino is killed by poachers given that the horn fetches astronomical prices in the global illegal market of wildlife parts. The price of the rhino horn is fuelled by the unscientific belief (it is rather a superstition) about various medicinal qualities of the horn especially in China, Vietnam etc., countries. In China, powder procured by grinding the rhino horn is used in traditional Chinese medicines to cure a range of ailments, from cancer to hangovers and also as an aphrodisiac.  In Vietnam, possessing a rhino horn is considered a status symbol among the neo-rich.

The illegal trade of rhino horn has of late, become a threat to national security given that trade has become linked to weapon smuggling and drugs trade and that brought some armed militants into the business of rhino poaching.

By deciding to burn down these rhino horns, the Assam government wants to drive home the message that there is nothing precious or medicinal about the horn for which the ancient animal is killed by poachers. Biologically speaking, a rhino horn is essentially a mass of complicated hair, rhino horn is made up of keratin, a protein which makes up our hairs and fingernails. The horn continues to grow during the lifetime of an individual rhino.

The government wants to bust the myth over the rhino horn so that it becomes easier to protect the rhino that is thriving in protected areas of Assam including National Parks of Kaziranga, Manas and Orang and Pobitora Wildlife sanctuary.

(By Bijay Sankar Bora)

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