NUMALIGARH: The biggest-ever stockpile of rhino horns was consigned to flames at Bokakhat on World Rhino Day amidst the chanting of hymns and the blowing of conch shells to dispel the myths associated with rhino horns.
The State Government burnt 2,479 rhino horns in the presence of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at a public function to bust that rhino horns have amazing medicinal value.
Sarma said that today is a historic day for Assam and India as an extraordinary step to burn the largest-ever stockpile of 2,479 rhino horns has been taken, the highest in the world, pursuing the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of putting an end to poaching in the state."
He said: "We would respect and love the rhinos alive and protect them in their natural habitats. A one-horned rhino is not only integral to our civilization but also a symbol of our prized heritage and identity. We are preserving 94 rhino horns for display at a museum to be set up at the Kaziranga National Park."
Sarma said that burning the rhino horns has made it clear that Assam would never trade them and the people of the state do not believe that the horns have medicinal value.
Several conservation initiatives to protect the greater one-horned rhinoceros have earned global accolades as the rhino population in the state grew from 1672 in 1999 to 2652 as per the 2018 census. This has contributed to the greater one-horned rhino moving up the conservation ladder from 'Endangered' to 'Vulnerable' tag under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Among the samples preserved, while the longest horn (57 cm) recorded is from the Kamrup Treasury, the heaviest (3.05 kg) is from Nagaon. Samples for future genetic analysis were extracted from the rhino horns marked for destruction and preservation by drilling.
Forest and Environment Minister Parimal Suklabaidya, who was also present at the function, said that never before such a huge stockpile of rhino horns has been consigned to flames to spread the message loud and clear that rhino horns are no 'aphrodisiac'.
The minister said that the event would send a strong message to the poachers that the horn doesn't have any medicinal value and its trade is completely illegal.
"Based on pure myth, with no scientific backing, rhino horns are used in traditional Chinese medicines. Due to their demand in some countries, poaching pressure on rhinos is ever persistent and it is intended that consigning rhino horns to flames will dispel these myths and send a strong message across the world," an official statement said.
The entire process was done in accordance with the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, while a public hearing on the rhino horn burning had also been carried out on August 29.
Assam presently has an estimated population of 2,640 Indian one-horn rhinos.