GUWAHATI- On the occasion of ‘World Rhino Day’, total 2479 rhino horns deposited in government treasuries across Assam were burnt in a public playground at Bokakhat near Kaziranga National Park in Assam. This was the first ceremony of its kind in India as part of an anti-poaching drive to mark World Rhino Day.
Chief Minister, Dr Sarma set the horns in fire in the ceremony organised as per Vedic rituals today. Top forest and wildlife officials and other dignitaries were also present .
At the ceremony, horns were carefully placed in layers in several large furnaces before being set alight, sending plumes of smoke into the air above fierce orange flames.
The animal parts- which contain keratin, the same protein as comes in human hair and nails — had been kept in storage by the government since 1969 in treasuries of Assam.
“With today’s action, Assam wants to send two messages — that we don’t believe that rhino horns have any medicinal value and that we only believe in preserving the living rhinos.”
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.
The endangered one-horned rhinoceros used to be widespread in the region but hunting and habitat loss have slashed its numbers to just a few thousand, with most now found in India’s Assam state.
Trade in rhino horn has been banned since 1977 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
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.
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.