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Assam starts verifying rhino horns in govt custody

By The Assam Tribune

GUWAHATI, July 16 (IANS): The Assam government on Saturday started the process to verify the rhino horns in its custody, giving in to demands for a CBI probe to ascertain the genuineness of the horns of one-horned rhinos.

Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of the Eastern Assam Wildlife Division Suvasish Das said that a government-instituted committee held its first meeting on Saturday.

"The committee has decided to compile the entire data base of the rhino horn kept in various treasuries of Assam and in due course of time, it will have transparent verification," he said.

He said that the meeting decided to have Mohan Chandra Malakar, retired state information commissioner as permanent chairman of the committee and Senior Wildlife Warden Pankaj Kumar Sharma as the member secretary of the committee.

Assam Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma, who chaired the meeting of the committee on Saturday emphasised on the need for complete transparent evaluation so that along with the people of the state, the country and the world can know the actual status of the rhino horns stocked in various treasuries of Assam.

Assam has over 2000 one-horned rhinos in the wild spread over various protected forest reserves including Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site. The rhino is also a sign of pride for the people of the state.

However, the frequent killing of rhinos and nexus between the militants-poachers and alleged involvement of some of the department officials in poaching and trade of rhino horns have forced several wildlife NGOs in Assam to demand for a CBI probe into the cases of poaching.

Assam based wildlife NGO, Nature's Beckon has been demanding that the rhino horns kept in the custody of the Assam government should be forensically verified to ascertain its genuineness for a long time.

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