By Dhinesh Kallungal
KOCHI: Even as wildlife poaching and illegal ivory trade is thriving in the State, a proposal by the Public Undertaking Committee of the Kerala Assembly to use the elephant tusks and animal horns kept in zoos and museums for preparing ayurvedic medications is yet get approval from the authorities concerned.
It is estimated that more than eight tonnes of elephant tusk, mainly seized from poachers and smugglers over the last few years, is kept in the strong-rooms of the State Forest Department. There is an equal quantity of tusk in the custody of various Devaswom Boards and elephant owners, despite a directive to destroy them.
According to Public Undertaking Committee chairman K N A Khader, there is a great demand for animal horns and elephant tusks in the Ayurvedic industry, for preparation of medicines.
Currently, the Forest Department and the Zoo Department follow the practice of destroying fallen deer horns by burning them. “As the horns and tusks are destroyed using kerosene, their remnants cannot be used for medicine manufacturing. Against this backdrop, a formal proposal in this regard was submitted before the Assembly,” Khader told ‘Express.’
“There is great demand for medicines mixed with the ash obtained by burning deer antlers, tusks and horns of wild animals, especially from the North Indian states,” said Oushadhi marketing manager Reghunandan Menon. According to Forest Department officials, though the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State had sent a letter to the government in 2013, proposing destruction of the stock of wildlife parts, no decision has been taken on the matter so far. Besides, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a global environmental organisation, has made agreements globally against ivory trade, to which India is a signatory.
“So, it is not easy to take a decision in favour of ayurvedic medicine manufactures,” said Forest Department officials.
Meanwhile, Heritage Animal Task Force secretary V K Venkitachalam in a representation to the Central Government demanded pulverisation of the elephant tusks kept in the government’s custody; and construction of elephant monuments using the crushed tusks as a symbolic fight against ivory trade and poaching.