Rhino horn audit today

 Rhino horns kept in various treasuries of Assam will be brought out for the first time in the history of the state's wildlife since 1980, and examined by forest officials and experts to check their genuineness.The verification of rhino horns, stored in various treasuries of Assam since 1980, will start tomorrow. Sources said there are around 2,000 rhino horns in various treasuries of the state.

"This will be the first time that rhino horns will be brought outside the treasuries for examination. Nobody knows what they will look like, powder or something else," the chairman of the rhino horn verification committee, Mohan Chandra Malakar, a former senior forest officer told The Telegraph.

The first treasury to be opened will be Golaghat, which has the highest number of rhino horns stored in government custody. Almost all these rhino horns are from Kaziranga National Park.

The 12-member rhino horn verification committee, under the chairmanship of Malakar, a former chief wildlife warden, arrived today at Golaghat. The process will start at 10am in a secured room.

The department had set up a committee for examination of rhino horn under the chairmanship of forest minister Pramila Rani Brahma after recent allegations that the rhino horns kept in the treasuries are fake. The trunks containing the rhino horns will be carried in batches from the treasury to Golaghat circuit house. Special security arrangements have been made by the district authorities for the transport and verification process.

The trunks will be opened only in front of those forest officials who had actually signed the verification forms and sealed the trunks back then, to check the genuineness of the horns. "Efforts will be made to open any trunk in presence of maximum possible signatories who would have to authenticate that the trunk was genuine and the seal on the trunk was intact. The strict protocol has been formulated to fix responsibility in case of any unwarranted development," a statement issued by the rhino horn committee said.

The trunk will be opened after authentication and horns will be examined. In case of any suspicion regarding its authenticity, the particular horn will be referred to experts at the State Forensic Laboratory. The forensic experts have also set up a field lab at the Golaghat circuit house for verification. The process will be streamed live for transparency, as the secured room will be out of bounds for anyone except the committee members.The committee will visit 12 treasuries of Assam where the horns are stored and is expected to file its report within 60 days.

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