24 June, 2021

Dolly, The Tiger

Do test-tube tigers and other cutting-edge biotech tools hold the key to saving endangered animals?

D. Ravinder Reddy
Dolly, The Tiger
Cloning extinct cheetahs and creating test-tube tigers might sound like the script of a futuristic film, but for a group of Hyderabad-based scientists it's the real plot. They are convinced that DNA fingerprinting, creating cell and gene banks and other such cutting-edge biotechnological interventions hold the key to conservation of the country's ever growing list of endangered animals.

The alarming dip in the country's big cat population and the disappearance of tigers from some of India's best known sanctuaries has already shown up limitations of the traditional census method of counting pugmarks to record the number of tigers in a particular reserve. "Such outdated methods can be easily fudged. What we need now is DNA fingerprinting of individual animals which is both a cost-effective and a foolproof way of keeping count of the big cats," says Dr Lalji Singh, director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

Singh claims the CCMB has developed techniques whereby scat samples collected from wildlife parks can be used to both record individual DNA...

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