Golaghat, September 22: Assam government is all set to burn 2479 rhino horns publically at Bokakhat parade ground in Golaghat district on Wednesday.

Preparations are underway at the Bokakhat parade ground to destroy rhino horns currently housed in state treasuries. The rhino horns will be burned publicly on September 22 on the occasion of World Rhino Day.

On September 16, the Assam cabinet decided to bust the myth about rhino horns and resultant poaching by destroying the confiscated rhino horns. The cabinet had also decided to preserve 94 rhino horns as heritage pieces for academic purposes, while 50 rhino horns will be preserved for court cases.

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.

A mass of compacted hair, rhino horn is made up of Keratin, a protein that also makes up our hair and fingernails. It continues to grow during the lifetime of an individual. Horns collected after the death of rhinos or those that naturally drop off are kept in the custody of the Forest Department.

Ground rhino horn is used in traditional Chinese medicine to ‘cure’ a range of ailments, from cancer to hangovers and also 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 Government of Assam has successfully resisted poaching with tough measures and launched several conservation initiatives. The remarkable success of these initiatives has earned the Government accolades from across the world, and today the Greater One-horned Rhino has moved up the conservation ladder from ‘Endangered’ to ‘Vulnerable’ tag under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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From arming Forest personnel with sophisticated weapons to consolidating the land around Assam’s rhino-bearing areas, the Government has stepped up rhino conservation efforts through technological interventions such as Electronic Eye Surveillance, use of Drones, smart app-based patrolling, besides enhancing habitat management initiatives, infrastructure, and instituting ration allowance at the rate of Rs. 2000 pm for forest personnel deployed in Protected Areas.

Adopting smart green infrastructure is the Government of Assam’s latest endeavour to ensure development and rhino conservation go hand in hand.