KOCHI: After a long interval, Keralites can access ayurvedic medicines that contain antlers of hoofed animals - used for invigorating spleen, strengthening bones/muscles and boosting blood flow.
The State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) approved a request from the state-run Oushadhi to collect and use antlers shed by spotted deer and sambars in zoos for preparing ayurvedic medicines.
Tonnes of antlers are kept in the stores of Department of Museums and Zoos as the sale and use of antlers are banned in India under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
A senior official of the Forest Department said the reconstituted SBWL approved the request of Oushadhi and it would be sent for the consideration of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL). He said since the state board has given its nod in this regard, there would not be any bottlenecks in receiving the final clearance from NBWL.
K V Uthaman, MD, Oushadhi, said Oushadhi has been manufacturing medicines made out of antlers till the end of 90s as there was a huge demand for these medicines in North and Central Indian states. But lack of enough raw materials and the strict enforcement of Wildlife Protection Act 1972 affected production of medicines after that.
“The state government and wildlife authorities should use the huge stock of antlers and ivory tusks kept in their custody. There is a huge demand for this medicine in ayurvedic pharma industry. Conservation of wildlife should be our main agenda. But we can use fallen antlers and tusks for a better future if they do not affect wildlife,” he said.
K Gangadharan, director, Museums and Zoos, said the department has around 750 hoofed animals in various zoos in the state and there is a huge stock of horns. “If the government allows the use of antlers, we have no issues to hand over the stock to them,” he said.
According to experts, the authorities were destroying the fallen horns of deer by setting them on fire. Since kerosene is used to destroy the horns its remnants and ashes cannot be used to make medicines.But if it is properly processed, the ashes of the burnt deer antler can be used to prepare various medicines in ayurveda and unani systems. The antlers will fall every year after ossification and will grow back.