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State govt burns rhino horns to bust myths on medicinal value

The Assam government burnt around 2,479 rhino horns, reportedly the world’s largest collection, on Wednesday on the occasion of World Rhino Day to dispel misconceptions about the species.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, along with some of his cabinet colleagues, including Forest and Environment Minister Parimal Suklabaidya and local AGP MLA and Agriculture Minister Atul Bora, senior forest department officials, and conservationists publicly burned rhino horns at Bokakhat, Assam.

The particular campaign, according to Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, is part of an effort to stop poaching of the endangered one-horned Indian rhinoceros. ‘We want to give a strong message to the world that the rhino alive with the horn on its head is precious to us and not a dead animal with its pride removed by poachers or those kept in the government treasuries,’ he said.

Considering their non-medicinal value, the CM argued that allowing their sale would amount to a form of fraud and foment poaching. Out of the 2623 reconciled horns, 94 will be displayed at a museum at Kaziranga National Park, while the remaining 29 will be retained for future court proceedings.

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Samples being preserved include the longest horn from Kamrup Treasury and the heaviest from Nagaon Treasure. The rhino horns marked for destruction and preservation by drilling were collected for future genetic analysis. The horns were from rhinoceros that perished naturally in the woodland zone, some from drowning and others from infighting.

Assam, which is home to 71% of the world’s one-horned rhinoceros, has delivered a clear message that the state’s residents do not believe the horns have therapeutic value. Rhino horn is utilised in traditional Chinese medicine based on legends and without scientific evidence.

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