Gifts generally gladden. But the Assam government’s proposal to present visiting dignitaries and museums across the globe with seized rhino horns has made greens see red.
According to Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain, gifting rhino horns seized from poachers or retrieved from dead animals was a better way of preserving the animal body part rotting in district treasuries.
The government has no data on the horns lying in the treasuries. This responsibility has been entrusted to a panel headed by principal chief conservator of forests S. Chand.
“This is a dangerous proposal. It sounds like a scheme to launder the horns in the guise of mementos to dignitaries and must be opposed tooth and nail,” said Bibhav Talukdar, green activist and member of the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife.
Warning such a move could to a certain extent legitimise poaching, Talukdar apprised Anmol Kumar, DIG (Wildlife), Ministry of Environment and Forests, about the proposal. “As per norms, all horns seized must be burnt in public after making a thorough inventory,” he added.
Sangeeta Goswami of People For Animals said, “It is tantamount to promoting poaching of the rhino.”