Explained: Why Assam govt is burning 2,500 rhino horns in a special ceremony

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What is the News?

Assam will mark World Rhino Day — September 22 — with a special ceremony by burning a stockpile of nearly 2,500 horns of the one-horned rhinoceros.

About Greater One-Horned Rhino

Greater One-Horned Rhino (or “Indian rhino”) are identified by a single black horn about a grey-brown hide with skin folds, which gives it an armour-plated appearance. 

The species is solitary, except when adult males or rhinos nearing adulthood gather to graze.

They primarily graze, with a diet consisting almost entirely of grasses as well as leaves, branches of shrubs and trees, fruit, and aquatic plants.

Habitat of Greater One-Horned Rhino

Greater One-Horned Rhino is restricted to small habitats in Indo-Nepal terai and northern West Bengal and Assam. 

India is home to more than 75% of the greater one-horned rhino population of the world.

In India, one-horned rhinos can be found in Assam, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh. Among these states, Assam has the largest population of greater-one horned rhinos, with more than 90% in Kaziranga National Park.

Conservation Status of Greater One-Horned Rhino

IUCN Red List: Vulnerable.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): Appendix I 

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I

Threats faced by Greater One-Horned Rhino

Poaching of Horns: The rhino horn is used in traditional Chinese medicine to cure a range of ailments, from cancer to hangovers, and it is also used as an aphrodisiac in Vietnam, possessing a rhino horn is considered a status symbol. 

Habitat loss: The enormous reduction in the range of rhinos was mainly caused by the disappearance of alluvial plain grasslands. 

Population density: High population density in some parks leads to lower breeding rates. Also, concerns exist about long term viability of sub-populations due to lack of genetic diversity.

Conservation measures to protect Greater One-Horned Rhino

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: Why Assam govt is burning 2,500 rhino horns in a special ceremony” published in Indian Express on 22nd September 2021.

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