Rhino horn piece puts Nagaland politicians in discomfort

Ex-lawmakers’ association worried after contractor in arrested Assam reveals he sold one to a former MLA

A piece of rhino horn has triggered anxiety among the members of an association of former lawmakers in Nagaland.

The Ex-Parliamentarians’ Association of Nagaland (EPAN) has been “disturbed” ever since an arrested contractor from Assam’s Karbi Anglong district disclosed that he had sold a piece of a rhino horn to a former Nagaland legislator. The horn had been sawn off a rhino shot in the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve months ago.

“Manshing Terang, the contractor from Diphu (headquarters of Karbi Anglong district), confessed to us that he sold a broken piece of the rhino horn to a former Nagaland MLA in August,” Piraisoodan B., Kaziranga’s assistant conservator of forest told journalists on October 2. He said the contractor, well-known for his socio-cultural activities, claimed to have also met the wife of the former MLA.

On October 5, the EPAN sought the disclosure of the rhino horn piece buyer’s name as the “suspense” over not naming the person concerned has “tarnished the image” of Nagaland’s former legislators.

“Our association stands for the preservation of flora and fauna,” EPAN president Joshua Sumi said, requesting Assam’s forest authorities to disclose the name of the MLA who allegedly bought the piece.

P. Sivakumar, Kaziranga’s director said the name of the buyer would be revealed after all material evidences are collected. “We know who he is,” he added.

The police and forest guards have caught almost a dozen people accused of poaching rhinos in Kaziranga and other wildlife reserves in Assam. Essentially compressed hair and rhino horns are sold in China and Southeast Asian countries in the belief that they act as an aphrodisiac.

The Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, has an estimated 2,413 rhinos. The park houses 55% of the world’s total population of one-horned rhinos.

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