The Optimist Citizen

The story of Elrhino and the father-daughter duo who are making paper products out of animal dung and saving thousands of lives in the process

“My father is an innovator, an inventor and it is his inventive and inquisitive nature that has driven me forward”, Nisha Bora, co-founder of Elrhino, states that proudly. And the work of Elrhino is indeed a reaffirmation of the ingenuity that Nisha’s father holds and how that is capable to change our opinion on producing paper. 

Elrhino, a unique organization started by the father-daughter duo of Mahesh and Nisha Bora, processes Elephant (El) and Rhino (rhino) poop to manufacture paper products with a strong vision of making tree-free paper. The paper eventually takes the form of artistically exquisite stationery and related products for a wide customer base.

Nisha was a market researcher with a multinational corporation when her father’s quest for something new after retirement redefined her quest for success and contentment. Mahesh Bora, a mining engineer, always had a knack to venture into the unknown. It was during one such search that he stumbled upon an industry wherein people were manufacturing paper from Elephant dung in Rajasthan. Sensing an opportunity in Assam, he decided to start manufacturing paper using the dung of Elephants and Rhinos.


Together, the duo started working on quality paper products. Nisha, affirmatively, says that idea has always been centred on raising awareness of individuals towards animals and highlighting the reasons to support and sustain them. The business plan has been constantly evolving and has been focusing towards product diversification so as to also incorporate a vital customer approach in the manufacturing of the products. Currently, there are 17 full-time employees as well as more than 40 part-time employees who are associated with Elrhino.

Workers at the Elrhino factory spread rhino-dung pulp on wire screens before hanging the sheets up to dry. The sheets are used to make products such as decorative paper, lampshades, calendars and notebooks. (Photo Credits: PRI)

The products that Elrhino is creating are spreading magic across places both nationally and internationally, including countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and France. “A lot of people are talking about the company and its products. But, what is more important is that there is an invigorated discussion and awareness on the issues of wildlife conservation, especially those of the one horned rhinos in Assam. I can see the conviction and trust growing. That’s impact for me”, points out Nisha. The government, although in a lukewarm fashion, has also started responding well to the work of Elrhino and customers ranging from a wide demographic have started appreciating and understanding the importance of wildlife conservation in the process.

And it was these persistent efforts and the unflinching work that Mahesh and Nisha have done with Elrhino that has created such widespread awareness. They have addressed a sense of possibility that even from the waste of the animals, something beautiful can be carved out, which contribute for the conservation of thousands of animals, provide viable employment for hundreds and can prove to be a sustainable business venture, all at the same time.


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