Racket in fake animal body parts flourishes in Northeast

Cashing in on the demand for animal parts, poachers have been selling fake rhino horns, elephant ivories and tiger nails to unsuspecting customers in Assam and other parts of the Northeast.

Official sources said the conmen make replicas of the animal body parts with buffalo bones and chicken feet, dry bamboo and wood to dupe their customers in the illegal market. The customers in their hurry to fix the deals to avoid being caught by authorities, do not examine the products carefully, the sources said.

Dry bamboo root and wood are used for fashioning the false rhino horns, which are then coated with lac to give a realistic look. For the more discerning buyer, they even smear the fake rhino horns with frog flesh and blood to pass them off as genuine ones with their distinctive smell, the sources said. Genuine rhino horns fetch lakhs of rupees in the international grey market for their so-called aphrodisiac qualities and medicinal value.

For the `tiger nails' and `ivories' that are bought for making pendants, the crafty traders use chicken feet and buffalo bones to mimic the real thing, the sources said. Last December, two fake rhino horns were seized by forest department authorities who found them abandoned in the outskirts of Bokakhat town near the Kaziranga National Park -- home of the one-horned Indian rhino.

Two illegal traders in this connection were apprehended, but no case was registered by the police or the Revenue Intelligence because fake animal parts do not come under legal purview, the sources said. On March 29, three persons were arrested in the Lalganesh area of Guwahati with a rhino horn-like object that was sent for forensic examination.

With the demand for rhino horns, tiger teeth and ivory increasing in the grey market, the criminals were devising ingenious ways of duping buyers.
The sources said the fake market indicated frustration of poachers in the face of sustained anti-poaching efforts by the authorities.

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