Environmentalists Oppose Assam Govt's Move to Dehorn Rhino

The Assam government\'s move to explore trimming of horns to save rhinos from poaching was today opposed by an environmental activist body which said it will affect biological growth of the animal and the risk from poachers will continue.

Published: 05th March 2014 05:24 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th March 2014 05:24 PM   |  A+A-

Rhinos
By PTI

The Assam government's move to explore trimming of horns to save rhinos from poaching was today opposed by an environmental activist body which said it will affect biological growth of the animal and the risk from poachers will continue.

"The horn of a rhino is a part of its biological growth. With the help of the horn, the animal selects a mate for breeding. So removing the horn will be detrimental to the rhino population," Nature's Beckon Director Soumyadeep Datta told reporters here.

The rhinos use their horns also for behavioral functions like defending territories, protecting calves from other rhinos and predators, maternal care, digging for water and breaking branches.

Datta said a study by environmentalist Janet Rachlow revealed that 90 per cent of the dehorned white rhinos were poached within 18 months as the horns grow back very quickly.

If the horn is cut too close to the germinal layer, this could damage the horn base and lead to deformed horn re-growth or death of the individual rhino due to blood loss or shock, he said and cited the instance of a rhino death at Majuli after its horn was surgically removed by forest authorities in March 2013.

Last month, Assam Forest and Environment Rockybul Hussain had said the government will set up a committee to study if the horn of a rhino could be trimmed without any harm to the animal to save it from poaching.

Nature's Beckon also opposed to translocation of rhinos saying it was against nature.

"So far eight rhinos have been killed in Manas National Park by poachers. Before we translocate rhinos, the security aspect should have been checked properly," he said.

According to the NGO's estimates, about 12 rhinos have been translocated to Manas from Kaziranga National Park in the last three years. Coupled with natural breeding the rhino population at Manas had increased to over 20, of which eight had been killed by poachers for their horns.

"We have been demanding a CBI enquiry into rhino poaching for a long time. But the government is not accepting it," Datta added.

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