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| Last Updated:: 06/04/2017

North India to get its first DNA bank for wild animals








Bareilly: In a milestone for wildlife conservation in the country, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) here is setting up a DNA bank for wild animals, the first of its kind in North India. Scientists have so far collected samples of 140 species.




Through the DNA bank, scientists at IVRI's Centre for Wildlife will be able to tell the name and schedule of the species if they get only a part of the meat, hair, blood, skin or bone of any animal. Besides, the centre is also collecting serum of animals. The move will help clamp down on wildlife poaching and smuggling, and also aid in research on wildlife species, scientists said. A DNA bank exists in Hyderabad at present.




Talking to TOI, principal scientist and in-charge of the Centre for Wildlife, IVRI, A K Sharma said, "On the instruction of director of IVRI R K Sharma, we have started setting up a DNA bank at our institute. We have already collected samples of all species which are targets of poachers. We have samples of tigers, leopards, lions, elephants, rhinos and deer which have commercial value for poachers."




Forest and police officials at times catch poachers and recover animal parts but the species of the animals is difficult to determine. Experts at times are able to suspect the species based on the type of meat or bone and the population of animals present in the area of origin of the body parts.




But if scientists get any animal's meat, hair, blood or any other part from which cells can be obtained, they will compare it with the DNA bank to know the name and schedule of species. The schedule of the species will help in knowing that whether animal falls in endangered category or not.




The DNA bank will become functional by the end of the year. "We are currently doing post-mortem of wild animals and not accepting animal parts for DNA test at IVRI. Once our DNA bank becomes functional this year, we will begin DNA test, facilitating forest departments and conservationists in North India," said Sharma.




Besides, scientists here are preserving serum samples of wild animals. "When the blood clots, the fluid which comes out is known as serum. Samples of serum will help in detecting retrospectively whether the animal was suffering from a disease. We can detect the antibodies which the animal's system had produced. Infections caused by both virus and bacteria generate specific anti-bodies," Sharma said.




Scientists added that when DNA and serum samples are stored at temperatures from -20 degrees centigrade to -80 degrees centigrade, they can remain intact for years together.









Source: The Times of India