September 22 marks World Rhino Day and the Assam government in India burned its stock of rhino horns to mark its commitment to the conservation of the greater one-horned rhino.
The greater one-horned rhino population, which once numbered as low as 100 creatures in the early 1900s, has increased to more than 3 700 today.
This is due to the strict protection by government authorities and forestry officials in India and Nepal, which also helped reduce poaching.
Just last year, there were only two recorded losses in Assam.
The horns burned were seized from poachers and smugglers, or extracted from dead animals over the last four decades and kept in government treasuries for safe keeping, a press statement revealed.
It said the Assam Environment and Forest Department destroyed around 2 500 rhino horns, ivory and body parts of other protected animals, excluding those being held as evidence in pending court proceedings. Additional specimens were kept for scientific or educational purposes.
It said the destruction of the rhino horns and other animal parts was conducted in conformity with the relevant provisions of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 and complies with a court order by the Gauhati High Court.
Travellers can see rhinos in four Protected Areas in Assam, including Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Orang National Park, Kaziranga National Park and Manas National Park.
There are also plans to increase the population to 4 500 in the coming decade.
Nina Fascione, International Rhino Foundation’s executive director, said the greater one-horned rhino is a national treasure.
“We congratulate the Government of Assam and all of those in India who have worked to bring this important species back from the brink of extinction.
“The greater one-horned rhino is a national treasure, and India’s commitment to rhino conservation will help greater one-horned rhinos thrive for future generations,” she said.