rhino horns
Preparations underway to burn rhino horns at Bokakhat. Image credit - Northeast Now

After the burning of drugs in public view, now Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma gets ready to lead the burning of rhino horns in a mega programme at Bokakhat.

The burning of rhino horns will also mark the celebration of World Rhino Day.

A total of 2,479 rhino horns will be destroyed.

The rhino horns were stored in the government treasuries of Morigaon, Barpeta, Mangaldai, Guwahati, Tezpur, Nagaon, Kaziranga and Golaghat, and examined by the experts.

Also read: Forest dept gears up to burn rhino horns in presence of Assam CM

The event of the burning of rhino horns, scheduled to be held on Wednesday, is going to be a mega show as the programme will be attended by 10 ministers, CEMs of BTC, KAAC and top-level officials apart from Asam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The ministers, who will attend the programme as guests of honour are forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya, panchayat & rural development minister Ranjeet Kumar Dass, agriculture minister Atul Bora, handloom & textile minister UG Brahma and transport minister Chandra Mohan Patowary.

Also read: Amit Shah ‘authorises’ Assam CM to hold preliminary talks with ULFA(I)

The other ministers to be present at the event are health minister Keshab Mahanta, revenue minister Jogen Mohan, finance minister Ajanta Neog and water resources minister Pijush Hazarika.

Besides, chief executive member (CEM) of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) Tuliram Ronghang and Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) CEM Pramod Boro will also be present at the mega programme.

As per the programme, the transportation of the rhino horns from the Bokakhat treasury to the Bokakhat parade ground will start at 7:30 in the morning.

Flags of four rhino-bearing protected areas will be hoisted after the arrival of the rhino horns.

Chief guest chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma will arrive at Bokakhat parade ground at 9:30 am.

The welcome address will be delivered by principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) & head of forest force (HoFF), Assam, Dr Alka Bhargava.

There will also be video display of speeches by international conservationists.

After speeches delivered by the chief guest and other dignitaries, they will inspect the rhino horns and chief guest Sarma will lead the symbolic charging of the furnaces.

The vote of thanks will be delivered by Dr AMit Sahai, PCCF (Wildlife).

According to the forest department, Assam has the largest population of greater one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) in the world.

With about 2,600 individuals, they are found in Kaziranga, Manas and Orang National Parks besides Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.

They were earlier found in Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary and some other parts of the state, from Goalpara in the west to Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in the east.

Essentially a mass of compacted hair, rhino horn is made up of Keratin, a protein that also makes up our hair and fingernails.

Horns collected on the death of rhinos of those naturally drop off are kept in the custody of the forest department.

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Myths behind rhino horns: 

Ground rhino horn is used in traditional Chinese medicine 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. “Due to demand in these countries, poaching pressure on rhinos is ever persistent against which one cannot let the guard down,” the forest department said.

Abstract of rhino horn reconciliation:

Rhino horns reconciled: 2623

Rhino horns marked for destruction: 2479

Rhino horns marked for preservation: 94

Horns implicated in court cases: Genuine – 19 and Fake – 10

Both fake and African horns have been reconciled.

The longest horn recorded is 57 cm anterior curvature and 42.5 cm standing height and the weight of the heaviest horn recorded is 3.05 kg, according to the forest department.

Rhino reconciliation & destruction

The Wildlife Protection Act 1972 allows for the destruction of wildlife trophies (including rhino horn) under Section 39(3) (c) which states – “No persons, shall, without the previous permission in writing of the Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorised officer destroy or damage such government property”.

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