Assam forest department to dispose rhino horns

Assam forest department to dispose rhino horns

Guwahati: Assam environment and forest department, which has started the process to verify around 2,500 rhino horns seized from poachers, smugglers or extracted from dead animals over the last four decades,
has completed the verification of 261 horns, where 18 have been marked
for preservation and 241 for disposal.
The State wildlife warden Amit Sahai disclosed that verification of
rhino horns stored in government treasuries in the districts of
Kamrup, Barpeta and Morigaon have already been completed and the
process is underway in the districts of  Sonitpur, Nagaon, Golaghat,
etc said a state government statement.
Assam’s principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) Sahai also
added that various stakeholders, including NGOs, media persons, etc
are being involved in the verification process to ensure transparency
in the whole exercise. The entire operation is being screened live, he
stated adding that the destruction of horns and other animal articles
would  be carried out in conformity with a relevant section of the
1972 wildlife protection act.
“Barring the rhino horns linked to court cases and some good samples
of horns for showcasing in museums and for scientific and academic
purposes, the rest of the horns will be destroyed,” revealed Sahai
adding that the forest department was mulling to dispose of the
damaged rhino horns on the national elephant appreciation day (22
September).
Officially known as the greater one-horned rhinoceros are found
primarily in eastern Bharat and Nepal. The rhinos are listed as
vulnerable on the IUCN red list. Assam’s world famous Kaziranga
National Park alone gives shelter to over  2,400 one-horned rhinos.
The State’s chief wildlife warden MK Yadava, while reiterating that
rhino horns are not meant for display or for use in any other way by
any individual in the country, declared that the forest department
would take a final decision on disposing the horns after a public
hearing scheduled for 29 August.
It may be mentioned that the government constituted a rhino horn
verification panel in 2016, following allegations that fake horns were
being used to replace the real ones in the treasuries. During the
process a total of 2,020 horns were found in 12 treasuries of the
State. Around  5% of the stored horns are understood to be preserved
for education, awareness and scientific purposes.
Last time, the government faced public uproar against the decision to
burn rhino horns as some people suspected that the corrupt forest
officials would take the opportunity to replace few real horns with
fake ones for smuggling those to the illegal international market,
which might fetch a few thousand dollars. The forest department argued
that the  burning down of rhino horns would spread the message that
those do not have any aphrodisiac value, as it is assumed by many.